Handy advice on how to keep your home cool in the summer

If you are living in the UK you no doubt have been affected by the July heatwave, where on July 1st, Brits experienced the hottest day on record – with temperatures peaking at a scorching 36.7C!

Such high temperatures can no doubt cause discomfort at home, so we have compiled some handy advice on how to keep you and your house cool in the summer.

Close the curtains

When the sun is shining it maybe tempting to throw open your doors and curtains.  However, windows can account for up to 30% of unwanted heat, and can turn your home into a rather large green house.  Closing your blinds and curtains can help significantly lower the temperature – a trick that you may notice when visiting warmer climates abroad!

Are you looking after yourself?

It may seem like an obvious tip, but ensure that you stay cool by looking after your body.  For example; take regular showers, drink plenty of water, and wear loose clothing when you can.  Also, freezing wet flannels bbqcan make fantastic cheaper alternatives to ice packs – once frozen, press onto your pressure points (i.e. wrists) and feel your body gradually cool down.

Any excuse not to cook…

Make the most of the hot weather by turning off your oven and enjoying evening BBQs instead.  Having your oven turned on will heat up your entire house, especially if used during the day.  So what better excuses to dust off the grill and bring the family round for an al fresco dinner?

Choose the right bed

Choosing the right mattress can save you a lot of sleepless nights once the temperatures start soaring.  Although priced slightly more expensively, buying from a good company such as Sealy, who use Geltex to help regulate temperatures and keep you cool at night, can stop you from waking up in a pool of sweat.

Let your heat rise

It is a common fact that heat rises.  If you have a loft, open the hatch to it and let the heat rise through, so that it can circulate throughout the roof and in return, cool down the entire house.


Do you have any more handy tips on how to stay cool?

Image Credit: WikimediaDeviant Art


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Six top tips for a barbecue at your new home

Everyone knows that one of the main features of a great British summer is a barbecue. So why not use that new home and garden of yours to host one for your friends and family? The British summer isn’t the most reliable when it comes to its weather, but in the hope that we do have at least a few nice weeks this year, why not give it a go using these top tips:


A themed barbecue is a great way to build enthusiasm among you and your guests, whether you simply theme the food you plan on serving or opt for something  more creative. Whichever you choose, have fun with it! Create an idea that both you and your guests will enjoy being a part of. Make sure it’s not something overly  difficult or complicated, just something to add to the occasion.


Games are a great asset to a barbecue once the food and drink is underway. This will add to the fun aspect of your barbeque and give you the chance to try out your  creative skills as a host. You could even incorporate your theme! Why not divulge some family jokes or something that will trigger a memory among your friends? The  games can be anything as simple as a game of cards, to an amusing game of Twister!

 Try some new food

There are a number of conventional foods associated with a British barbecue; from the classic beef burger, to the good old hot dog. Why not show off your cooking and creativity by adding to these classics using recipes that people may not have tried before? Go back to your original theme and try to alter the food accordingly, whether adding some salsa and guacamole to your Mexican themed barbie, or making a big paella to channel your inner Spaniard.

Create some drinks

Exciting drinks to go with your food, whether alcohol or juice based, themed or none-themed, will enhance your barbecue even further. Try your hand at creating some cocktails or make a good old fruit punch or vintage lemonade for those less inclined to alcohol.

Invite the neighbours

You’re in a new house, which most likely means you’re in a new neighbourhood, so why not invite some of the neighbours? A laid back event like a barbeque is a great opportunity to meet and get to know some of the people on your new street, so try to invite them along to join you.

Make the most of your garden

You’ve got a nice new garden, so make the most of it! If you have garden furniture, make sure it’s accessible to your guests and spread out as to use as much space as possible. Even if your garden isn’t very big, you can still make the most of what you’ve got; put some rugs out for people to sit on or utilize your dining room furniture if possible.


Image credit: Takuma Kimura via compfight.com

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Giving your summer garden the wow factor
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Giving your summer garden the wow factor

We all know that, with the summer on the way, we need to get out into the garden and begin to trim, prune and prepare those outdoor spaces after months of neglect over the winter. It might seem like a thankless job, however when the warm weather arrives and the barbecue season kicks off, you’ll be glad to have a spot in which you can relax and entertain. If you’re wanting to go that extra mile this year and truly make your garden a haven for entertaining guests, here are some of our favourite creative additions.

Keeping warm

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We all know that, even on the warmest of summer days, once the sun sets the inevitable chill will hit. If you want to keep your outdoor party going long into the night, why not make a statement, rather than opt for the standard garden parasol? A fire pit can become the centre piece of your garden, whilst also being functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Creative furniture

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Speaking of garden centrepieces, we’d like to think that over the coming month, the outdoor table will see plenty of use (although given the UK’s weather, who knows?) What better way to impress guests than to get inventive with your outdoor furniture?

Garden structures

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Feel like your garden is just a bit drab? Nothing to get excited about and no area in particular is perfect for relaxing? Just one small addition of a garden structure, such as a pergola can make a huge impact and add a real point of interest to your space.

Outdoor cooking

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We all love cooking up a storm on the barbecue, and nothing quite makes us feel like summer has arrived like the smell of grilled burgers and sausages wafting through the air. Rather than having to endure the embarrassment of bringing out a tiny disposable barbecue, invest in an area to cook that will really add to your garden, and stand the test of time.

Then relax…

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What’s the real purpose of your garden when the warm weather hits? It’s a place to lounge in, relax and just soak up the limited warm weather we have. Create a zone in which you can truly unwind, and finally enjoy your summer.

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Homes with gardens: Make the most of summer
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Homes with gardens: Make the most of summer

The summer is well and truly here, and the beautiful weather of the past few weeks has led to many of us flocking outside to bask in the sun and warmth. When the warm weather hits, the garden is the place to be, and to many, the outdoor spaces of a home can be just as important as the indoor, especially in the summer. If you’re looking to move into your first home, or even want to upgrade from your current house to something with a little more to offer, an impressive ‘garden room’ can add real value to a home in the eyes of a buyer. If you’re looking for the perfect next home, and enjoy long summer weekends enjoying the sun, cooking up a barbecue and entertaining guests in a generous outdoor area, here are our top three picks of Keepmoat homes with a garden to offer.

Cutlers View, Sheffield

Cutlers_View_4859The Cutlers View development has proved extremely popular with home buyers, with properties all sold well into 2015.  The show home gardens have prompted many conversations with interested parties due their great design, entering the space down steps and leading to an arch, creating the effect of a secret garden.  Due to the location of the development atop a range of hills, the view of the city and peak district beyond are simply stunning. These great outdoor features have resulted in many purchasers being willing to wait over a year for their dream location. Situated on a tram route, the properties enjoy easy access  into the city, with trams running every 9 minutes, giving great links from the railway station to all over the country. All in all a brilliant location for city living but with the added bonus of being in a very green location giving the added feeling of a countryside retreat to boot.

St James Gate, Birkenhead

New Garden Pic 800x400St James’s Gate is a fantastic development which is playing a major part in the regeneration of the Birkenhead area, with a range of three and four bedroom homes available from just £99,995 or only £79,995 with Help To Buy.

Situated just across the River Mersey from Liverpool city centre, the development sets a great impression to viewers with a stunning new show home now open to give househunters a look inside these beautiful offerings. Set in Birkenhead, the development is around four miles from Liverpool city centre, and is surrounded by beautiful parks and golf courses on the Wirral Peninsula. Generous gardens only add to the properties, and make each offering ideal throughout the summer, however you enjoy making the most of the sun.

Horizon, Newtown

DSCN0247Horizon is an extremely popular new development of stylish and affordable homes in the heart of Birmingham city centre. Now in its third phase of development, Horizon offers a range of two, three and four bedroom homes just a mile from the centre of the UK’s second largest city.

The contemporary homes are ideal for couples and families alike, and come complete with energy saving appliances and environmental design features including roof mounted solar heating panels, the latest condensing boilers, energy saving lighting, double glazing and insulated walls, cycle storage and rainwater harvesting.

Boasting impressive and generous gardens, the Horizon development is the perfect midlands home if you enjoy evenings entertaining in the garden, or lazy weekends soaking up the sun.


If you’re the proud owner of a Keepmoat property, and enjoy spending the summer out in your garden, drop some of your top summer garden tips in the comments section below. We love to hear how you spend your time, and you might just inspire some fellow readers.


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How to hold the perfect garden party
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How to hold the perfect garden party

Thanks to Nicola Peterson for the creation of her article exclusively for First Home News. 

Precision and planning are two key elements when it comes to holding the ultimate summer get-together. Entertaining friends and family at home can be a great way to celebrate the warmer months. The smell of hot coals and the feeling of the sun beaming down – no one can refuse an invite to a summer garden party. Make it a summer to remember this year by gathering your nearest and dearest for a perfect BBQ shin-dig.


Preparations should begin the night before your garden party. You should ensure that the coal for the BBQ is kept in a secure, dry environment. Failure to do so will only dampen the mood when you realise your fuel isn’t fit for use. A gas-burning BBQ would eliminate this extra preparation, but you would need to purchase a gas canister and safely connect it to your grill.

You could even decorate your garden for the summer celebrations. For a quirky British summer vibe, adorn your fence with bunting and streamers to really evoke a feeling of nostalgic street parties of yesteryear.

Food & friends

Forget the charcoal-tainted bangers of last summer, the food you serve at your next BBQ will set the benchmark for future friends’ and relatives’ endeavours. Don’t just blindly grab your apron and get going with whatever meat you could find on offer, plan your menu and offer your guests some options. A BBQ may be a carnivore’s dream, but by adding light salads of couscous and mixed leaves, your guests can take a break from the heavy onslaught of meat.

You could really get the party flowing by creating your own cocktails. Pimms may be the epitome of the Great British summer, but you can add a much more personal touch with a big bowl of homemade punch. Nothing says summer like a refreshing fruity beverage to quench your thirst under the sun.

Practicalities of your party

Although the sunshine is glorious, you’ll need to provide some respite for your guests. Parasols and marquees can offer some much needed shade when the sun is beating down. If any party-goers have forgotten their sun lotion, they’ll need some other form of protection from the relentless rays. You could also leave your kitchen or conservatory doors open to allow people to hide away from the sun if necessary.

When accommodating extra guests, the ‘spare chairs’ just won’t do. Make sure you have outdoor furniture that can stand up against the elements and is in keeping with the style of your garden. Go for lightweight outdoor furniture that gives you the freedom to rearrange sections during your party.

Let’s get out there and make the most of the summer we’ve got left. Great company and great food is all you need to make your party a success, so let’s reclaim our gardens and get cooking. If you think of yourself as a bit of a summer party expert, make sure you comment below, and inform us and your fellow readers of your top tips!


Creative commons image sourced on Google Images from Wikimedia Commons

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Conservatory customisation for the summer
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Conservatory customisation for the summer

They’re a great home addition all year round, allowing you to truly feel the elements of your garden whilst being within the comfort of your home, however in the summer, a conservatory really comes into its own. A haven in which you can enjoy the radiant sunshine, catch a cool breeze as it drifts through open patio doors and retire to when the night draws in, conservatories are the ideal summer home addition. Making sure your conservatory is summer ready isn’t a big deal, however adding a few seasonal touches will allow the room to be the perfect area for summer entertaining.


A conservatory provides an entirely different feel from any other room in the house. Something that looks perfect in the living room is highly unlikely to sit well in a conservatory, especially when considering large furnishing items such as sofas and coffee tables. When it comes to these items in the conservatory, nothing does it better than wicker. The natural feel of the wood, combined with the shapes, comfy cushions and style just work in the light filled, summery feeling area.


The concept of utilising season-right colours can be applied to any room in the house, however it’s vitally important that through the summer months, you get it spot on in your conservatory. Whilst you might not have considered the impact your colour scheme through the winter, when the area wasn’t getting much use, once the temperatures rise and the sun comes out, the colour scheme is a crucial aspect of the home. It is useful to keep white or cream as your base colour which you can then accessorize around depending on your preference. Light shades are ideal for summer, allowing the room to stay cooler even when the glaring sun is out.

Keep it natural

Whilst it’s an extension of your home, a conservatory should also be seen as a transitional area from house to garden. Incorporate elements of nature into your conservatory which will help to aid the room’s purpose as an indoor/outdoor living space. On warm summer days in the garden, or evenings entertaining guests, it’s great to open the double patio doors from a conservatory or orangery and allow guests to move freely from garden to home. Integrate natural elements such as plants and flowers in the room in a more predominant way than you would in any other area of your house. The warmer nature of the room means greenery will thrive, and they also serve a practical purpose too, purifying the air and removing toxins, as well as adding a new depth to the room.


The light and airy feel of a transitional conservatory space means you can truly get expressive with your wall and sill decorations. This is an element of furnishing where you can really hit home the feeling that your conservatory is an extension of your garden, as well as being an extension of your home. Incorporating natural elements into the decor can be a great way to do this, wood and natural stone look great in a conservatory, to try to utilise these materials when it comes to furniture and accessories.


Are you the proud owner of a conservatory or orangery in your home? We’d love to hear your top decorating tips, so make sure you tell us your favourite summer updates in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: David Paul Ohmer via Compfight cc

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Making the most of a holiday at home
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Making the most of a holiday at home

Being a new homeowner is expensive, and unfortunately that may mean cutting out the holiday that you desperately want. It might seem like a poor compromise, but in order to combat the home buying cost, you may need to have a holiday right in your own house… a staycation. Here are a few tips to help you get started for a week off work at home, or even a simple weekend of relaxation.

Frame of Mind

Be sure to act the same as you would on holiday; so stop watching the news and TV in general, stop going on the Internet to check up on Facebook, even stop using your phone. Being in the right frame of mind will help you relax and enjoy your time off more. Remember that this is a break from your hectic life and you don’t need to think about every day problems. Instead, read a book or invite people round for a social gathering. Do the things that you’re always too busy to do. Remove all clutter from the rooms, especially the bathroom. You don’t even have to sort it all out, just shove it in a drawer and forget about it for the weekend. Out of sight, out of mind definitely rings true here.

Staycation Setting

Make your home into your holiday paradise. If you love the beach then put out seashells, deck chairs and parasols. If you love the countryside then put out water fountains, decorative pine cones and scented plants such as lavender. Use new colour schemes to feel like you’re abroad or in a hotel. Candles are also a nice touch, especially outside. If you have a big enough garden, move some furniture around and bring the inside to the outside; put down a rug, bring out cushions and blankets, even bring tables outside if you’re struggling with garden furniture. A fire pit is perfect to sit around and feel like you’re on holiday so if you have one then light it up and relax in the heat.

Things To Do

Cutting out TV and Internet might leave you thinking that you’ll have nothing to do over your well deserved break, but that’s not true. Invite your friends round and spend the day having a barbecue outside with your newly moved garden furniture. If your fire pit is alight then roast some marshmallows and enjoy s’mores for dessert. Try eating food you wouldn’t normally try and if you have no interest in cooking, have it delivered so you don’t have to leave your holiday cocoon. Eat different food every day to maintain the foreign food experience. Another option is to have a spa day. Soak in a relaxing, scented bubble bath with candles and music.


It might not sound ideal, but having a mini-break at home is a great way to recharge your batteries and take a break from your everyday hectic life. If you’re interested in getting onto the property market, simple tricks like enjoying some time off at home instead of abroad can be a great intuitive money saver. For those looking to make that first move and become a first time home owner, check out the services of Keepmoat, over at their website.  
Photo Credit: StevenM_61 via Compfight cc

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10 ways to get your summer garden on a budget

10 ways to get your summer garden on a budget

When it comes to decorating your garden in time for summer, how much you spend can spark quite a bit of a debate. While you’re obviously eager to make the most of every last bit of sunshine by basking in your beautiful garden, it’s also inevitable that the great British summer will be over before you know it and therefore it’s probably not worth breaking the bank for.

That being said, when the sun does decide to show, there’s nothing better than organising a BBQ or cocktails with friends and family, knowing that you have a lovely garden to sit out in. Bearing that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 summer budget buys that can help to spruce up your garden and get it summer ready, without having to break the bank.

1. Statement pieces are a great way to add a feature to your garden without having to spend a lot of money, so a large ornament or statue can often work perfectly. This bronze decorative garden sphere is the perfect way to add contemporary style to your garden and is a bargain at only £14.99.

2. If you’re looking for something to help give your table a bit of wow factor then this solar powered mosaic table lamp is just the thing; both stylish and practical.

3. When having friends over for a summer BBQ, it’s great to have something fun to dress up your garden. These fun lights can help to keep the party running from day, well into the night.

4. When it comes to seating, these heritage bistro chairs are the perfect addition to your garden.  Light and easy to fold, they’re ideal for storing away when the sun does decide to disappear.

5. Lanterns have become one of the latest décor trends, with a wide range now available for the garden.  They are great way of adding a decorative piece to your garden, whilst also adding to the ambience. Don’t forget to purchase some candles too.

6. Who can resist these dragonfly solar lights? They scream summer and instantly add a burst of colour to your garden.

7. This garden wall sign can help to add an air of shabby chic to your garden, and at only £3.00 is a serious must-have style upgrade.

8. Sticking to the theme of shabby chic, this watering can makes for the perfect garden feature. Our tip would be to use it as a garden planter and once filled with beautiful flowers it will make for the perfect table centre piece.

9. Cushions are a great way to add a splash of colour and are an instant style upgrade for your garden. What’s great about these is that you can use them inside too.

10. Finally, we all dream of summer nights where we can stay outside chatting and catching up with friends but the reality of it is that it often gets too chilly. However, now thanks to this bargain fire pit at only £39, you can make the most of your evenings sitting outside around the fire.

Thanks to these top 10 budget buys you’ll have all of the neighbours talking about how fabulous your summer garden is; while you can relax knowing that if it rains…it’s OK to go inside!


Photo Credit: Naughty Architect via Compfight cc

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Top summer gadgets

Top summer gadgets

New items and gadgets for your home are perfect for any time of the year, however as the summer rolls around, it might be the case that you’re after a new toy to enjoy as you dart from the indoors to the scorching heat of your garden. Whether you’re planning to impress guests with outdoor drinks and barbecues, or  just want something to add a bit more personality to your home, we’ve compiled our list of the perfect summer gadgets to introduce into your home.

Patio heater

Summer means spending time outside, entertaining, cooking up barbecues and enjoying the weather with an ice cold drink in hand. That’s all well and good, however as the sun sets and the warmth turns into the evening chill, it’s the prompt for many to move the evening inside. If you’re looking to extend your patio evenings longer into the night, you need to generate some warmth for your guests. A patio heater is the perfect option, providing your patio with radiant warmth from a relatively cheap gas source. Our pick is this Sahara heater, priced at just £99.

Outdoor shelf cupboard

Staying on a similar theme of entertaining guests, our next suggestion is this Hi Gear four shelf outdoor cupboard. We all know the frustration of having a packed patio table, and the food you’ve spent hours hunched over hot charcoal cooking won’t all fit. This handy outdoor cupboard is perfect for when your table space is limited. At just under £40, it’s the perfect accompaniment to any barbecue.

Speaker system

Whether you’re wanting to enjoy background music whilst entertaining guests or you enjoy relaxing in the summer sun with music blasting, a portable speaker system is a must have over summer. There are plenty of options when it comes to speakers, but leading the class when it comes to bluetooth speakers and iPod docks are Bose’s range of portable stereos. With a great sound, quick recharge time and a range of models to fit most budgets, these are our pick for blasting out your favourite tunes over summer.


Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean all your investments need to relate to the outdoors. With the World Cup fast approaching, many electronics stores will be promoting TV sales in build up to the big tournament, and with evening kick offs in many of England’s games, it’s the perfect opportunity to throw an event and open up your new home to friends. Shop around for the best deal, and make sure you get something nice and big to enjoy the coals and carnival atmosphere of the world’s biggest sporting event. The likes of Currys are offering cashback on any TV bought over £699 when England or Brazil score, however many other retailers are likely to have offers on in the looming build up, so there will definitely be bargains available.

Sprinkler system

If the move into the new home has prompted you to take a keen interest in gardening, then your summer will involve a lot of watering. Scorching temperatures lead to dry soil and grass areas, so it’s important to keep a hose pipe handy for an evening water. If you’re someone who likes to take an interest in garden maintenance, but doesn’t have the time to water every night, investing in a smart  sprinkler system might be the route for you. Installing permanent sprinklers keeps your garden looking smart and serves the function of watering your garden and plants as required. Interested? This oscillating pop-up sprinkler from Gardena might be for you.

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Enjoy spring cooking in the sun

Enjoy spring cooking in the sun

As weather forecasters predict a drastic rise in temperatures over the coming week, it’s understandable that many of us will want to head into the garden to basque in the early summer heat. Whether you’re after something light to serve up to friends over the weekend, of just want something simple to cook and enjoy on your patio one evening after work, we’ve got some great, quick and tasty meals for you to enjoy.

Parmesan Spring Chicken

Serves: 4


  • 1 egg white
  • 5 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 400g new potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 140g frozen peas
  • a good handful of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil


  1. Heat your grill to a medium temperature and line the grill pan with foil. Beat an egg white on a plate with a little salt and pepper.
  2. Tip the Parmesan onto another plate, then dip the chicken into the egg white, then the cheese.
  3. Grill the coated chicken for 10-12 minutes, turning until browned and crisp.
  4. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, adding the peas for the final 3 minutes, then drain.
  5. Toss the vegetables with the spinach leaves, vinegar, oil and seasoning to taste.
  6. Divide up into four plates, and then serve with the chicken.

Spring Salmon with Minty Vegetables

Serves: 4


  • 750g small new potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 750g frozen peas and beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • The zest and juice off of 1 lemon
  • small pack of mint  (leaves only)
  • 4 salmon fillets about 140g/5oz each


  1. Boil the potatoes in a large pan for 4 minutes. Tip in the peas and beans, bring back up to a boil, and then carry on cooking for another 3 minutes until the potatoes and beans are tender.
  2. Mix the olive oil, lemon zest and juice and mint in a blender to make a dressing
  3. Put the salmon in a microwave-proof dish, season, and then pour the dressing over. Cover with cling film, pierce and microwave on high heat for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Drain the vegetables and mix with the hot dressing and cooking juices from the fish.
  4. Serve the fish on top of the vegetables.


Spring Fish Pie

Serves: 2


  • 250g bag washed leaf spinach
  • 450g small new potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g skinless, boneless white fish fillet, cut into large chunks
  • 100g half-fat crème fraîche
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. First, heat your oven to 220C and then tip the spinach into a colander in the sink and tip the potatoes into a saucepan.
  2. Bring a kettle full of water to the boil and pour enough over the potatoes to cover and slowly pour the rest over the spinach to wilt it. Bring the potatoes to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes until tender, then drain and mash.
  3. Leave the spinach to cool, and then squeeze out excess water with your hands. Scatter the spinach over the bottom of an ovenproof dish, leaving two gaps for the eggs.
  4. Crack the eggs into the gaps, then season with salt and pepper. Distribute the fish over the spinach and eggs. Spread over the crème fraîche and drizzle with the lemon juice. Loosely spoon over the potatoes, drizzle over the olive oil, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is crispy and golden and the sauce is bubbling at the sides.
  5. Leave to stand for a few minutes, and then serve straight from the dish.


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