“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.” Well I can assure you and the late Orson that there were three other people present at a recent dinner party we threw in belated honour of our new flat. We have been living in our new flat for a few months before finally getting our act together and inviting two of our closes friends over for dinner. That is not to say they had not been in our home but mainly for drinks before or after dinner to a gorgeous local Indian restaurant we four tend to frequent. As this was the first dinner party in our new place we decided to all out. Cutlery and glasses were expertly polished as if the Queen were one of the guest, the table was set with specially folded napkins (see here for various tips) and Champagne was chilled. We served charcuterie, cheese and olives to start, followed by the British favourite – fish pie, salad and bread. This was a delicious Jamie Oliver recipe we have made for ourselves before and it didn’t fail to impress our guests. A little tip: Jamie says it is optional to add cream if you wish to make the pie creamier and we always add a tablespoon of double cream. For dessert I turned to Nigella for a chocolate mousse recipe found here. In keeping with my love of all things British, I thought serving them in tea cups with shortbread would be a nice touch. This was the first time i’d made this recipe and it was fantastic. Quick, easy and every so rich and chocolatey!!! I am finding Nigella the go to girl for great desserts of late.
I have no valid excuses for neglecting this blog other than the usual busy work/ life ect. So what have been up to thats blog worthy over the past three months? Hmmmmmm
Well we took advantage of the rest of the summer to head on out to the close by Ebbor Gorge for a walk and picnic. Some parts of the hike are not for the faint hearted but I am lucky enough that whilst I am a curvy girl I am a fairly fit and able walker / hiker. That is not to say I didn’t complain in the steepest parts but once up the top, the view made it worth it.
Our little city has been thriving with community events from the local French Boules Tournament to the Charity Fun Run to the much anticipated Night on The Town. The latter being in its infancy but the people of Wells turned up in full force to shop, drink and eat to their hearts content.
Theres been some celebrity spotting of late too. We’ve had Nicholas Cage popping into check out the Wells Market recently, Terry Griffiths the world famous snooker player spent a few days and perhaps the most exciting of all was dinner with the Sheep Shaped Potato! Yes you read that correctly! One of the things I love about being in a small place is all the fun stuff that passes for newsworthy items. Upon initially being told that a couple of farmers had stumbled across a potato in their crop that looked suspiciously like a sheep and that this was a story being picked up by the local newspaper I had to giggle. By the next morning The Huffington Post had picked it up among others (see here) and I was told that the Sheep Shaped Potato, or SSP as I had started calling it, was dropping by with it’s ‘parents’ for dinner at our bistrot and to have a photo shoot with the Journal! Excitement was palpable as you would expect and whilst initially a little sceptical as to the newsworthiness of this vegetable, I can honestly say that when it was lovingly pulled out of the hand bag of it’s ‘mother’ I became an SSP convert. It was the hands down one of the cutest things I have ever seen and it REALLY did look like a sheep!!! See for yourself. When the news is filled with death, war and financial woes to name a depressing few, it is nice to have a piece of news that brings a smile to your face. Long Live the SSP!
It has been a while since I last posted mainly because we’ve been flat out at work and also trying to organise ourselves for the Festival of all Festivals – GLASTONBURY. As luck would have it we managed to score work at the festival in exchange for tickets. Being our first ever Glastonbury Festival we decided to make the most of it and head on site on the Monday afternoon (one of the perks of working there) and spend the extra days finding our bearings and watching Worthy Farm come to life.
Now I am a bit of a control freak and as excited as I was at seeing the Rolling Stones play, I was a little apprehensive as to how I would cope with the chaos of 175000 people excessively drinking and lets face it most likely doing drugs and becoming rowdy but I needn’t have worried. Glastonbury Festival is unlike any other Festival I have ever experienced. There is this chilled, respectful and family orientated vibe about the whole site. Everyone is there to have a good time from baby to grandmother and the atmosphere is just amazing! It blew me away.
One other thing I was also worried about was the mud. I had heard horror stories of flooding and of people falling down and getting stuck in the mud and I’d seen the photos of some of the worst years. But again we had luck on our side. The weather was glorious! There was only rain on one day and that started at about 3pm and went through till about 8am the next day and then the sun came out and everything dried up. There was only a minimal amount of mud and I actually enjoyed making my use of my wellies 🙂
Our plan for the festival was to see The Rolling Stones (of course), Mumford and Sons, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Lumineers and my hubby wanted to see Smashing Pumpkins. If we could manage it The Proclaimers and Elvis Costello were also on the list. This might be a source of ridicule for readers but I had hardly heard of anyone else of the set list…..Unfortunately we were working on Sunday night so were unable to see Mumford and Son’s and Nick Cave clashed with Smashing Pumpkins so we chose to support our fellow Aussie Nick Cave. All in all of our must see bands we managed to see The Stones, Nick Cave and The Lumineers. We also saw Elvis Costello, Vampire Weekend, Laura Mvula, Ben Howard and the Wells Vicars Choral (who were particularly good with some great covers) and we caught partial sets of Beady Eye, Billy Bragg, Kenny Rogers (who was a big crowd pleaser with his hit Islands in the Stream) and Primal Scream. The Stones were incredible naturally and Nick Cave closing the set with Red Right Hand was the highlight of my Sunday and made missing Mumford and Son’s a little easier.
For those of you who haven’t been to Glastonbury Festival it is hard to comprehend the sheer size of the place. I had been told by everyone that it was big but you really don’t get just how big until you get there. The music is just one of the attractions of the festival. The food is incredible (and veggie / vegan friendly) and the shopping you can buy almost anything you can think of…..I could have spent a fortune. The are bars littered throughout the site (big ones and small ones) and the alcohol prices are reasonable between £4.20 and £4.50 for a pint of lager / cider. But you can bring alcohol on site as long as it is not in glass so my hubby bought a bunch of cans of various ales and a cask of red wine and was pretty much set for the week, though he did venture out for a cold lager once or twice. I’m not much of a drinker so I spent the entire festival happily sober, though I did over indulge on Coke Zero and Shepherd’s Ice Cream :). The Greenpeace farmers market was excellent – all the fresh fruit and veg looked amazing.
It is funny in such a big place you can run into people you know without even trying. I may have even brushed shoulders with Royalty. When we were walking though the festival on the Saturday I walked passed a guy that looked so much like Prince Harry and even commented to my husband at the time at how he was Harry’s doppleganger, not for one minute actually believing that he would be there. It wasn’t until we got back to civilisation and wifi on Monday morning that I saw in the papers that he had actually been there and wandering around with the plebs. So that’s my claim to fame – I may have walked passed Royalty or someone who looked very much like him!
All in all we had an amazing week and hope to do it all again for many years to come.
See below for a few tips for Glastonbury:
Tissues packs (these small packs come in handy for the loo if you don’t have a big bag to carry a roll of loo paper around with)
Snacks and food for cooking
Alcohol – no glass bottles
A 5lt bottle of water as well as a small water bottle. The big one reduces the amount of trips to the water points and you can refill your smaller bottles. It is also handy for when you need water for cooking.
A cooker – we have a big double hot plate one with a grill rack but chose to bring a smaller one hot plate one for convenience which you can pick up for £10 – £15 from Halfords.
Sleeping bag and air mattress
Small first aid kit with bandaids, antiseptic wipes and ibuprofen. There are first aid tents at the festival but if you just need a bandaid or have a headache it is handy to have on you.
Cutlery, utensils, cups, plates ect
Mug – a lot of places will charge you a deposit (refundable) to use their ceramic mugs so if you bring your own then you don’t have to worry about having an extra £2 on you for the deposit.
Plastic Bags – good for bins and to put dirty clothes in
A wide range of clothing – it might be hot during the day but if you are at any of the stages at night you are likely to get quite cold so bring a few jumpers and long trousers
ear plugs and eye mask if you find you don’t sleep well surrounded by hundreds of other tents
phone chargers – though the recharge tents usually had a ridiculously long line
Poncho and waterproofs
Sunscreen, Sunglasses and Hat
Ground sheet – even if you tent has one it may come in handy
How to show your respect to Michael Eavis:
Use the bins on site correctly – they are clearly marked for food, cans and other waste ect
Clean up after yourself – when we packed up the only sign that anyone had been there was the flattened grass where out tent had been.
Don’t pee on the land! It gets into the water stream and contaminates it – do you really want sick fish on your conscious?
Don’t use Chinese lanterns, bring glass on the site or leave tent pegs in the ground. These things will kill the cows that call Worthy Farm home for the majority of the year
Take everything you bought onsite with you back home again. Don’t leave tents, gazebos, chairs, mattresses and god knows what else for the hundreds of volunteers to clean up and dispose of after you leave
The message is everywhere you look onsite – LOVE THE FARM, LEAVE NO TRACE.
- Glastonbury Festival 2013: Scorching hot weather hits Worthy Farm (metro.co.uk)
- Sun sets on historic Glastonbury festival (vietnamnews.vn)
- The last day in Glastonbury| Il Post (benciaphotography.wordpress.com)
- Stones play long-awaited Glastonbury gig (news.yahoo.com)
- Glastonbury 2013: Jumping over fires, dancing into the early hours, overflowing bins and a few hours of sleep (dailymail.co.uk)
- Gallery: Glastonbury Festival 2013 preparations (metro.co.uk)
- Glastonbury Festival 2013: Mumford and Sons close the festival on the Pyramid stage (dailymail.co.uk)
- Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis hails ‘best festival yet’ (itv.com)
Words uttered by Horace in Pinero’s 1888 play Sweet Lavender and I could not agree more. It was in this vein of thinking that I decided it was high time to ditch the tea bags and buy myself a proper teapot and loose leaf tea. I informed my hubby of this and the fact that this excursion would result in the need for dainty tea cups, a cute milk jug and tea strainer. He sighed but agreed to indulge my tea madness.
So we set out yesterday morning in search of a teapot….we searched and searched and searched. We looked in every home wares and kitchen shop in our village, we then headed for the outlet wonderland of Clarke’s Shopping Village scouring all the same kinds of stores and even a shop dedicated solely to tea pots and tea turned up nothing. I didn’t realise until I had started looking that I was very particular about the teapot I wanted. I couldn’t say for sure what I wanted but I would know it when I saw it. Not overly comforting words for my husband. Thus we started looking for tea cups and this also came to no avail. I wanted “Dainty and English”, two things my husband pointed out I was not. So we came home empty handed and I resolved to find what I wanted on the internet and again I searched and searched. I came across some lovely tea cups and tea pots. One particularly took my fancy see it here but for some reason I wanted the rounder globe shaped tea pot and there was something about it’s shape I wasn’t happy with (I am a crazy person I know). Finding tea cups to match my criteria was much easier online except for the price! I quite liked these and these and even these but wasn’t keen on spending so much for four cups and saucers.
This morning I woke up with renewed vigour and decided to go back to the first shop we had looked in yesterday and have another look at the first teapot my husband pointed out to me. And as soon as I did, I loved it! To avoid anymore second guessing I bought it and a very vintage looking tea strainer. I don’t know what the shop assistant thought of me with my Metallica T-Shirt, discussing the difficulties of finding the perfect teapot but she was friendly enough and gave me some tea cup advice. She said her daughter had recently wanted tea cups and visited a bunch of charity shops picking up mixed match sets. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it considering I live in a village full of charity shops. So without further adieu I hit the charity shops. Not all had a big selection but this was definitely the kinds of dainty cups I was looking for. I was initially keen on the mixed match idea but then wandered into a shop that sold a beautiful set including 7 cups, 5 saucers and 9 side plates for £4.99!! What a bargain and they are made in ENGLAND by Alfred Meakin. Perfect! Now I just need to find the perfect milk jug 🙂
- Quick, get them a tea cosy! (myfoodchallenge.wordpress.com)
- !Disney Store Pinocchio Teapot with Jiminy Cricket Tea Pot (disneypinocchioteapotjiminycricketisale.wordpress.com)
- How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea: George Orwell’s 11 Golden Rules (brainpickings.org)
- Zombie-Inspired Teapots – These Novelty Decaying Teapots are Perfect for the Undead Enthusiast (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
A couple of weeks ago my work colleagues and I decided that there just wasn’t enough cake in our lives, a problem I’m sure many people can relate to, so we decided to remedy this by having a cake day or as my husband called it A Celebration of Cake! Basically those of us not working were expected to bake a cake (bought cakes being against the rules) and those who were working were exempt from baking but not from tasting.
Now being the chocoholic that I am I was keen to make a classic chocolate cake but my husband wanted to make something epic. If you knew him, you would know that he loves cooking and is very good at it so he can be a bit of a cooking show off. So I knew right from the start that we would end up bringing two cakes to the gathering but the more cake the merrier right!
Being the converted English rose that I am, I wanted to use a British recipe and stumbled across a simple chocolate cake recipe from Nigella which you will find here. The only change I made was not separating the cake into two cake tins and simply using one tin as I did not have two identical size cake tins. This meant that the cake took about 45 minutes to cook. The other thing I did differently was that I decorated it with Maltesers instead of sugar flowers. I say I but this cake was a joint effort between my husband and I as was the second more ambitious cake.
We still hadn’t decided what cake to make for the second one until we were wandering through the local Co-Op and saw the berry stand and it hit us. We had seen Union Jack Jubilee cakes decorated with berries mid last year in a magazine and thought they looked great so we decided to give it a go. After all what’s more identifiably British than the Union Jack? Well maybe Winston Churchill but I don’t think his bulldog face would make a good cake decoration…….
Anyway we set to finding the recipe we had seen last year and whilst I am not certain we found the exact one, there was plenty to choose from. We settled on one from Baking Mad that looked easy and impressive. Again I made a slight change as we chose not to put raspberries in the cake mix as the recipe states and settled for just having the plain vanilla sponge. We were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make and decorate. Though we definitely over catered with the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries but that just gives us an excuseto make some berry deliciousness with the left overs!
The cake fest went well with some of my colleagues making some truly amazing cakes! The tea cup cup cake moulds were particularly cute and only £2 from the factory shop for a box of 6! I will definitely be picking some up for myself. Check out the photos.
In my search for various chocolate cake recipes I came across a number of yummy looking vegan cake recipe’s which in honour of my vegan twin sister I endeavour to give a go (even if she is over the other side of the world and can’t try them) so watch this space. What is your favourite cake to make?
- Cake decorating fun! (lovingmaggie.wordpress.com)
- Guest post – Chocolate cake for lazy people (bonappetea.wordpress.com)
- Pink Lemonade Cake Pops (pixiedustkitchen.com)
- National Chocolate Cake Day – A Brief History of the World’s Most Beloved Dessert (berries.com)
And has left again. I’m a little late in blogging this as May Fair was in full swing last weekend with rides, candy floss (fairy floss to us Aussies) burger vans and well lets face it a few drunken idiots. But it’s not all bad. Last Monday saw glorious sunshine, May Pole dancing, live music, vintage cars and a lovely market and fair on the Cathedral Green.
It’s events like these that really make me relish living in a small place. I have lived in and around Brisbane most of my adult life and whilst it is a great City you don’t usually know your neighbours and community events are few and far between. I love walking down the High Street and know the people I walk past and experiencing events like May Fair. Since living in the UK we have had the pleasure of experiencing Carnival, Jubilee Celebrations and even got to watch the Olympic Torch come through our little village.
- Spin Your Own Delicious Fairy Floss With An Old Hard Drive (lifehacker.com.au)
The biggest difference between our former desk job lives and our current hospitality careers is that my hubby and my days off can vary and sometimes don’t coincide. This week my days off were Monday and Tuesday and my husband’s were Tuesday and Wednesday. Luckily I had the late shift on Wednesday so we decided to make the most of our limited shared time off and head up the road for an overnight stay in Bath. The main attraction: front row seats on opening night of Agatha Christie’s Go Back For Murder. We arrived around lunch time, checked in to our cheap and central Travelodge and headedout for lunch. We ate at a Brazilian restaurant near the Theatre Royal after picking up our tickets for the night’s show and happily stumbled across a court yard with monument of handprints of famous actors who have graced the Theatre Royal’s stage. One of them quite excitingly for me was Peter Ustinov,who I first watched playing Hercule Poirot as a child.
We have been to Bath before and done the tourist thing but that time the weather was poor, so this visit after lunch we took advantage of the beautiful 18 degree sunshine and wandered the streets of Bath before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the show. As we had a big lunch we decided we would just have afternoon tea before the show. Now finding the perfect English tea house is a bit of a hobby of mine and after doing A LOT of research on tea houses in Bath I decided on Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms a 1930/40’s tea house boasting home made strawberry jam and vintage war time paraphernalia. Trip advisor is full of raving reviews and I stumbled across a blog here that sealed the deal for me. Eagerly we headed out and arrived at just after 5pm to find that it had closed early for the day. Disappointed is an understatement but we resolved to go back for morning tea before heading back to home the next day. Boy was it worth the wait! From themoment you enter it feels like you have gone back in time. The WWII era music sounds as if it is coming from a vintage wireless and surroundings are just gorgeous with dainty embroidered table cloths and mix matched chairs and patterned china. We had a lovely cream tea and can attest to the deliciousness of the strawberry jam! Definitely a must visit if you’re in Bath.
As for the main attraction, Go Back For Murder performed by the Agatha Christie Theatre Company was excellent. The play is based on the Christie novel Five Little Pigs and is one of my favourites. It was a treat for me to see Sophie Ward on the stage as she played Molly Kendall in A Caribbean Mystery alongside the definitive Miss Marple, Joan Hickson in the 1980’s. This was our first visit to Theatre Royal Bath but it won’t be the last. It is a really stunning Theatre.
- It’s murder and mayhem for one of Agatha Christie’s ‘blue-stocking’ heroines (walesonline.co.uk)
- Nothing As it Seems – Jane Austen in Bath (janeaustensworld.wordpress.com)
- My tea with Agatha…. (sisterhoodofthemuse.wordpress.com)