Archive for 2013

The Arrival of a Monstrous Cold

Winter is coming, the ground cold and the air filled
with water droplets, ever freeze-drying my skin. 
It's been a while, and it will probably be longer
still, but here and now is an opportunity to post,
and that I shan't refuse!

It was nice to go out for a bit with my Sister, even if not for very long and in very little light, and take some very poor quality snap shots!

Cafe Greetings

Its been a while, and no matter how many times I say "here we go, this is the beginning of a true blogging life" it's just not going to happen. So for this 'months instalment', lets talk Cafe. Leeds Castle Cafe.


I have been going to Leeds Castle for years. Its a perfect venue for family days out, art projects and generic memory making. There is, however, one aspect of Lady Bailey's country cottage I would like to talk about in particular: the Fairfax Restaurant.

For the best vanilla chocolate cake and breakfast tea around, its definitely my spot of suggestion this Autumn. As I sit, sipping my dandelion and burdock and 'family watching', I hear the rattle of cutlery, the "stiiirrff" of a milk frother and click of my camera shutter.

Upon Reflection.

This time I have no excuse. I have not been on holiday. I haven't even taken a long weekend. I have however been working, but probably not as much as I should have.

I would like to think my life was so eventful and exciting I could post  daily novels about a certain restaurant or holiday destination I had been to recently...

But it is not to be, for now anyway. For the moment, this moment of reflection, I'd like to show you todays happynesses.

Picture A:
I went into town today to meet a friend and go for a hot beverage. I came back with two old, smelly and very cheap pots from my local thrift/charity store to home my latest hoardings. They are truly hideous, but I love them.

Picture B:
It's here! I am fast becoming infatuated with this paperback marvel.

for similar pots try here (may require hours of page scrolling)
and order your copy of cereal from here.



This has to stop.

Today I got my AS Ceramics results back, and the good news encouraged me to treat myself. What happened? I bought another succulent. 

I only went to the garden centre to buy pond weed! I almost didn't notice myself pick this up, pay for it and carry it home. This is beyond an obsession, I think I need some help. 
Joking of course, one can never have too many pot plants!

P.S. No am not starting some very unusual pescetarian diet, I just saw this as a good time to present to you my new spoon I bought on my holiday to Norfolk.


Celebration video, and Mittsy's claim to Stardom

September the twelfth is a very special day. It is what I am calling my '1st year ig birthday', which means (other than I'm very sad and need a life) I have now officially been an Instagram member for a whole year. To celebrate this momentous occasion, and take advantage of the new video feature, I decided to make a rapid stop frame of all my photos I've posted. Ever. Is it possible to watch 470 photos flash past in 14 seconds without getting a seizure? We'll see.

Anyway, what do birthdays need? Cake. It seemed only fitting to have a baked dream at the beginning of my video. And everybody loves cake, so I decided to put one at the end as well. One of my favourite Instagram feeds is that of Ariele Alasko, who a little while ago posted a cake with her lovely kitty (Mr C) posing next to it. Ariele's photos and Mr C are on my draft video at the bottom of this page.

I really wanted to include Miss Mittsy in my video, and have her next to a freshly butter creamed sponge with a flag and marshmallows... but is my grumpy little farm cat into the whole film star fantasy, or would she just prefer to sleep in inappropriately chosen places and catch shrews?

Bellow are some test shots of her with some cow parsley. I thought maybe a more fragrant starting point would be more appealing to a delicate, if slightly furry feline nose.


video

Wiverton Hall Farm Shop, Norfolk

This morning I experienced what can only be described as a breakfast fit for royalty. The Wiverton Hall Farm Shop, as well as providing a wonderful gathering of fresh fruit and vegetables, and a pick-your-own scheme, has just moved up into one of my 'favourite cafe' spots. 

Situated mid fruit farm, left of the car park and parallel to where the guinea fowl take their morning strolls, The cafe is a weather-borded, pastel-coloured jewel in the coastal crown. As I tucked into my raspberries and cream, sipped my coffee and fondly anticipated my cheese scone, I watched the potted plants dance in the summer breeze, and my mother eat her bacon roll. If you ever happen* to find your self in Norfolk, its well worth a visit.

*in other words pack your suitcase and set your sat nav!

Bluejacket Workshop, Morston

Today we went for a walk from Blakeney to Stiffkey along the Norfolk Coastal Path. Naturally we stopped for a cup of tea along the way, and chose Morston Quay as a suitable recharging station. Whilst I was sitting down sipping a peppermint tea, I noticed blue sign. But not any old blue sign, one that promised 'handmade furniture, art, textile work and antiques'. Intregue, curiosity and my Mother lead me towards the Bluejacket Workshop.

A truly unique collaboration of craft and excellence, in a secluded and tranquil atmosphere away from the beaten track, the workshop and shop were an inspiration. It stands out from the local crowd of manufactured lifestyle outlets. The combination of masterfully crafted homeware and hand selected antique gems are well worth a visit to the North Norfolk Coast.

for more information, see http://bluejacketworkshop.co.uk/


Branksome Beach, Dorset

I have just returned from my holiday in Bournemouth, Dorset, where I stayed with my lovely family. Almost everyday we went down to the beach, which from a photographic point of view was splendid. We were blessed with beautiful sunny spells, and deep sapphire seas. I spent a lot of the time marching off into the ocean with my iPod tightly grasped above my head, but when I wasnt doing this there were many land-based luxuries to enjoy as well. The highlight of the holiday, naturally, was eating brown paper clad cones of golden chips for lunch on the second day.


I'm back!

Hello! I'm sorry for a recent lack in blogging, I've been on holiday (I know of course this is no excuse). What am I enjoying this month? Glad you asked.

Currently I am obsessing over two objects that until recently I had never imagined owning, or thought I needed. Item A: a round circle of well sanded oak that sits next to my bed. Item B: an LP of Regina Spektor's "What we Saw from the Cheap Seats" with 11 original songs including 'Don't Leave Me', 'Small Town Moon' and 'All The Row Boats'. Why are these so essential to my new-found well being?

Well, firstly, about three years ago I decided I was going to construct a scale model of an Ercol pebble table, finally excepting that my ownership of the real thing was very unlikely. I carved the table top and legs from an oak floor board, left over from the re-decoratoion of the sitting room. My project ended there, however, as I no longer had time to put the pieces together. They have hibernated in my bottom drawer ever since. On cleaning out I was challenged with finding a new use for them, kindling not being an option as sitting in the rain with a router and sand paper for hours on end had caused me to become rather emotionally attached. The legs were, I'm sorry to say, not very useful, so they did end up  in the bucket next the wood burner. The table top, on the other hand, has been reemployed as a coaster. Every evening I like to enjoy a herbal tea. Whether it be peppermint, camomile or a special 'Clipper Sleep Easy blend', I find it helps me to relax, and settle down for the night. Resting it on top of a tissue to protect my Chiltern chest of draws was less than satisfactory, so this nifty little gadget has been perfect.

Object B I hear you ask? If you're still reading this, and haven't fallen asleep at your monitors, part two will commence shortly.

On Monday I had the indescribable privilege of going to see Regina Spektor at the De La Warr Pavilion. The building itself has been a favourite of mine for many moons, and Regina... well she's just amazing. I wasn't able to take any photos in the concert itself, but at the merchandise stall (comparable only to Aladdin's Cave) I found the perfect memento. I don't actually own a record player yet, but am probably surfing eBay as you read this. Every time I look at the sleeve, I am reminded of the wonderful evening, and just want to pick it up.


Moroccan Style Mint Tea

I have not been able to post this until now, due to my computers near death experience. After a serious scratch disk emptying, I have been able to successfully collate these images on photoshop, and blog away to my hearts content.

My piano teacher very kindly gave me a Moroccan mint plant on tuesday, and with it the chance to make my very own 'Moroccan mint tea'. This was an activity I had never before considered until then, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Being British, tea drinking is a big part of my life, and I couldn't wait to give it a go.

Firstly, place a handful of leaves at the bottom of a beaker. Then, fill with roughly a pint and a half of boiling water. Sweeten to taste (start with one and a half tbs and work up). Decant into a teapot and leave to infuse for about seven minutes. Remove the leaves and enjoy.


American Modern cups and saucers

After buying my very lovely Merimekko teapot and Ferm living trivet a couple of months ago, I have been on the look out for some equally perfect cup and saucers. On visiting Islington last month, and going into twentytwentyone on Upper Street, I discovered the ingredients for an ideal partnership. The American Modern cup and saucers designed by Russel Wright in 1937 are not only extremely comfortable on the hand, but on the eye also. Available in three colours; Sea-foam, Chartreuse and Granite, they are like polished pebbles of perfection. Let the search for a milk jug commence!

An Evening With Paloma Faith

I can't believe its been a week since I saw the amazing Paloma Faith at Bedgebury Pinetum. I'm not quite sure why I've waited till now to share the photos I took, but it's definitely better late than never (especially when Paloma comes into it)! We were so unimaginably close, as you can see, which truly made it the experience of a lifetime.

She was stunning, her voice was stunning, her staging was stunning... unfortunately my capture of lighting is not quite so stunning, by we were not allowed to take cameras with detachable lenses so I took these on my ipod.

The best bit was with out a doubt when she got off the stage and ran up and down the front of the audience, touching peoples hands (including mine) as she went. So if anyone is going to see her and has some spare tickets, I suppose I could fit it in to my timetable.



Pain perdu avec compote de cerises et basilic

French toast with cherry and basil compote.

Today I made this wonderful dish, a recipe from Rachel Khoo's "The Little Paris Kitchen". It was scrummy, but also really simple, and something I had to share!

Rachel's recipe says:

"You will need; 1 egg, 250ml milk, 1 tbs sugar, 4 slices of brioche, 1 tbs butter. For the compote; 450g frozen pitted cherries, 150g icing sugar, a bunch of basil (roughly 20g).

To make the compote, place all the ingredients in a pot and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally during this time to help dissolve the icing sugar.

Meanwhile, make the pain perdu. Whisk the egg, milk and sugar together in a dish. Place the brioche in the egg mixture and soak fora minute on each side. Heat the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the brioche and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden, then flip the slices over and cook the other side.

Remove the basil from the compote. Serve the pain perdu straight from the pan, with the warm compote spooned over and around it."

When I tried my hand at this tasty toast, I could not find frozen cherries in my local supermarket. In their absence, I replaced them in the recipe with 400g of frozen blueberries. This worked nicely, so if you dislike or can't find any cherries, there is an alternative!


Islington Adventures part 1

I returned yesterday from another wonderful weekend in Islington, staying with my lovely godmother Roxy. After spending the best part of Saturday in the rain watching an open air adaptation of 'To Kill A Mocking Bird', it was nice to have a drench-free wander around the next morning. We had a lovely breakfast outside a cafe in Upper Street, before heading off on a cross-pavement adventure.

I was immersed in urban fantasy; row upon row of bicycles, and a vibrant stream of vehicles speeding past in an ever changing veil of colour. Never could I forget the shop windows, the streets lined in displays of clothes, furniture and food, each one individual and eye catching. Everything from scottish woollen throws to raspberry meringues the size of a dinner plate! I look forward to my next visit.


Here and Now

It's almost that time of year already; more of the year behind us than is yet to come, and days seem to have more sunlight than moonshine. What am I up to this month? Glad you asked.

Listening to... 
Falling deeper and deeper in love with Beirut the more I listen to them, mostly on max volume, making sure I have enough space around me to dance interpretively without receiving scornful glances. 
Favourite songs being:
-Elephant Gun
-Santa Fe
-Nantes

Eating at... 
For special occasions, June being the month of my father's Birthday, my favourite restaurant is with out a doubt 'The Curlew' in Bodiam. It was awarded a Michelin Star in the 2011 Guide, which is very much justified in the heavenly dishes and decor. 

Wishing I owned...
A Robin Day Reclining chair. Mr Day himself says "A good design should fulfil its purpose well, be soundly constructed and should express in its design this purpose and construction." which I'm happy to tell you it does. Awesomely. The corner of my sitting room practically grieves over the absence of this masterpiece.

Watching...
Amelie. Lots and lots of Amelie.

My Latest Obsession

I have always been a Jam fanatic. Jellys, curds and conserves had always been up there in my top food faves, but recently I have developed a bit of an obsession. Even the act of opening a new jar is a pleasurable experience in itself; the sudden pop as the air escapes, releasing with it a sensual steam of fruity fragrance. My top preserve would have to be the 'National Trust's home-brand Blackcurrant Curd', which to me is heaven on a slice of bread, or cracker, or biscuit... or the end of my finger for that matter. I am guilty to storing up to seven pots of passion in my fridge at a time, but its fair to say I do like a little bit of toast with my jam.



Up-Cycled End Table

I have recently completed the construction of an up-cycled, mid century revival side table. The 1950's era of design is one of my favourites; light and airy with clean lines. Simple yet sophisticated and chic. Not too long ago I received a collection of old magazines from my Grandfather, most of which covered the 1951 Festival of Britain and the World's Fair of 1956. The freshness and excitement in the furniture pages inspired me to create a piece of my own. 

A key feature to my table is the circular hole in the surface, which acts as a pot plant holder. Bringing the outdoors indoors and taking inspiration from natural forms was a popular design ethic to budding designers in the age of bent plywood and teak. Including a home for 'Little Miss Petunia' was important when planing my tables functionality. I also wanted to create storage within the table, for magazines, remote controls etc. The table top is a neat box, open at the front and back, which allows users to preserve their latest copy of "Kinfolk" for later reading, or discretely house DVD's. 

My main focus when sourcing materials was keeping it 'green'. I wanted to recycle and up-cycle as much as I could. The top is made from sanded down floorboards, lovingly massaged in Danish oil, and the legs are re-sprayed robin day school chairs, which without my heroic efforts would have met their slow demise wasting away outside my local primary school. I also made circular feet from reclaimed acrylic.


Lemon Balm Tea

I have always been fascinated by the sight and smell of our Lemon Balm bush. Today I finally decided to ask my good friend Google whether this lovely plant was edible, or whether I would contract some form of terrible illness after consumption. With much joy I discovered it poison-free, so I set about concocting a herbal tea from its leaves. After ten minutes of infusing it was ready, and well worth the wait. Mint tinted in colour, with a citrus aroma. I felt at one with my self, calmed and relaxed, brimming with pleasure and satisfaction: homemade happiness.