31 Oct 2014

Falmouth beer & ale festival

A group of us went to Falmouth last weekend. Our aim? To attend the annual beer, ale & cider festival. And we did. And it was ace. Whilst in the picturesque Cornish coastal town we also sampled a few of the pubs (Beerwolf Books was cool - a pub and bookshop), some local cuisine (Cornish pasties, serious guuuuud chips from Harbour Lights, lush lunch and much needed Bloody Mary  at Gylly Beach cafe), a walk on the beach and a spot of crabbing - which we all sucked at. We stayed at the most bizarre hotel which kinda reminded me of the overlook hotel from the shinning - for quietness, vastness and jazzy carpet reasons rather than ghosts and murderous staff. Wish I'd taken a picture of that place. All in all, the weather was perfect, the ale delicious and the company? The best a gal could ask for :)

As for today...Happy Halloween! Hope you've got something fun lined-up. I'm off to the Royal Festival Hall this evening to hear Caitlin Moran interview Lena Dunham. Should be good :)

28 Oct 2014


Last Thursday I made myself a remembrance poppy, mostly because I needed something a little more sturdy than the paper ones but also because I'm liking felt at the moment; it allows me to do some hand sewing which I very rarely get to do.

Fast forward to today.

Today I went to the Tower of London. A friend suggested we go and see the poppy display as neither of us had seen it yet. Unfortunately for us, the world, his wife and his 5 million children had also decided to do the same thing. Tower Bridge/Tower Hill was a freaking nightmare. Unseasonally good weather + half-term? I should have known better. This was about all I saw of the poppies before a herd of elderly European tourists mowed me down.

My friend and I abandoned our plan (I'll go back one day, not in half-term, when it's raining) and instead went to the pub, this was our view. Today certainly wasn't all bad :)

Hope you had a good Tuesday too.

24 Oct 2014

olives & capers spaghetti

Jamie Oliver got a bit of stick about his 15 minute meals (for the same reason he got stick about his 30 minute meals). They took longer to make (for the average person lacking the all mighty food processor) than advertised. I can't say it bothers me, there's some great recipes in those books and that's what's important.

However, now I find myself in a new job which comes with a more arduous commute home (getting there is fine, why does coming back have to take double the time?!) and I'm feeling less and less motivated to cook fancy dinners in the evenings. I want fairly quick but tasty dishes, which don't require expensive kitchen equipment or too much effort. Enter my very own 15 minute meal.

Originally found in The Guardian weekend magazine about 4 years ago, it's one of my staples because it's super quick, requires very little effort and is a winner every time. Also, the ingredients are ones that I usually have kicking around the kitchen. In case you're on the lookout for quick dinners and aren't grossed out by anchovies, you could give this a whirl.

Olive, capers, tomato and anchovy spaghetti dish

(Serves 2)
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
150ml of passatta
Two tomatoes chopped into small-ish cubes
2 tbsp of olives (I prefer green ones) sliced
2 tbsp of capers, chopped
7-8 anchovies, chopped (I guess if you don't like them you could leave them out, personally I love them and sometimes I put in 10)
12-15 basil leaves
black pepper
Enough dried spaghetti for two

1. Boil the kettle. Whilst it's boiling chop your tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies.
2. Cook your spaghetti in a saucepan with some sea salt. Place a frying pan on top of the saucepan and add to it the oil, passata, pepper and all the chopped ingredients. The heat from the pasta will nicely heat the rest. Cool eh? :) Make sure you keep an eye on the saucepan though as it's likely to bubble over.
3. When the pasta is nearly done, tear up the basil leaves and stir into the passata mixture.
4. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain and divide it between two bowls, top with the passata mixture and the remaining basil. See, easy-peasy.

22 Oct 2014

recently seen

Kill Me Three Times (2014): One of the showings from the BFI's London Film Festival, my sis and I went off to Hackney Picturehouse to see this Aussie film about a hitman (played by Simon Pegg). It's a black comedy with a fragmented timeline, perfect for getting to grips with the small cast of interconnecting characters and their motives to commit murder. Succinct and funny.

Barefoot in the Park (1967): Jane Fonda and Robert Redford play young newly weds who move into their first rented, rather problematic, appartment in NYC. This film is all kinds of perfect mostly thanks to the cracking script and the fact that Jane Fonda is amazing. This may now be one of my favorite films.

A Star is Born (1954): Judy garland plays a singer who is spotted by drunken rich actor, James Mason. He takes a shine to her and promises that she could be a 'star'. And she does thanks to his connections and her talent. They fall in love and get married. But as her own fame gathers momentum, his drinking takes him on a downward spiral. I'd never seen this classic before and during the first half an hour or so I was wondering what the fuss is about but yes, it's brilliant. Judy Garland is amazing in this, particularly when she performs a reenactment of the film she's making. It's very tragic but also uplifting in a way.

The Descendants (2011): George Clooney's wife is left in a fatal comatose state having been involved in a boat accident. Along with dealing with his two daughters and the sale of some very lucrative family land on a neighbouring Hawaiian island, he finds out that his wife was having an affair. Although the subject matter is tough and v.sad I really enjoyed this film. It looks at the complexities of family, skewed perceptions and the different ways in which people cope and deal with grief, all played out with beautiful Hawaii as the backdrop. It's by the same director who did Sideways (which I also really liked) so it's worth a watch if that was also your cup if tea.

The Heat (2013): Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as mismatched law enforcers kicking ass. Fast paced and hilarious, I loved it. The director, Paul Feig, is tipped to be bringing us a female Ghostbusters movie which sounds cool but I'm a little trepidatious. There's an interesting article about it here.

In A World (2013):  A movie about the competitive world of voiceover work, particularly movie trailer voiceovers. A prominent voiceover guy dies, thus leaving the next big movie trailer contract up for grabs and Lake Bell ,daughter of a well-known voiceover artist (who's also a bit of an arsehole) and voiceover artist in her own right, is going for it. This film is awesome (definitely one of my favorites of the year) mostly thanks to Lake Bell who, is v.funny and endearing (who also wrote and directed it), and the rest of the cast. It's also great to get a little insight into a job that I've never really thought that much about. Cant't recommend this enough.

20 Oct 2014

home turf

What with neither of us working last Tuesday, Mitch and I went to give blood and, whilst waiting for it to open we did a little exploring around Twickenham riverside. I say exploring but, seeing as I've lived in the area for most of my life, it was more to show Mitch around.

He's already been over to Eel Pie island so I thought York House gardens along the riverside was a good place to start. Fun fact: when I was younger I used to think that it was a good place to get married, right on the grass in front of the statues and fountain. Incidentally, the statues are meant to represent the sea nymphs from Greek mythology. After the gardens we had just enough time to look around teeny tiny Twickenham museum which I'd never been to before (for shame).

I tend to find that new people visiting an area you know very well can help you rediscover it. Truth be told I'm still a bit grumpy about leaving Brixton but my home turf really does have its plus points, the proximation to the river being one of them. It's also got some lovely pubs, particularly The White Swan which I'd completely forgotten about until some friends were over from Peckham. So yes, thank you visitors, where I live isn't in the bustling centre (I get enough of that during the week) but it's got merits of its own which I won't be taking for granted anymore :)

19 Oct 2014

fun breakfast #4

On Saturday, Mitch, my parents and I set off early to Norfolk to see my grandparents. En route we stopped off at Elevden to get some much needed breakfast. I got eggs florentine.

Two poached eggs
Hollandaise sauce
all atop an English muffin

It was as delicious as it looks and the eggs were perfect.

16 Oct 2014

Knitting & Stitching Show 2014

 It's that time of year again. Wool, threads, fabric and exhibitions all in the palace at the top of the hill in north London. Last Thursday was the first time I'd been to the Knitting & Stitching Show not for work purposes. Whilst I missed being able to leave my coat and umbrella in the press office and the ability to pick up a programme for free, it was rather liberating to wander around the show sans 'work-mode', at my own pace and shop, without feeling guilty, to my heart's content.

At the top of the list is Caren Garfen gallery, She Was Cooking Something Up. She combines cross-stitch and screen printing to bring to light issues affecting women in the 21st Century, particularly the media's obsession with women's bodies, weight and dieting. Garfen's work is insanely detailed - see the tea bags containing household items rather than leaves, oh and that dress (which is one of two) is completely hand stitched, yeah. As well as featuring cross stitched sayings ("she had her cake and ate it"), the exhibition also highlighted the damaging effect of an attitude, channelled by the media, in which women's bodies are public property to be scrutinised and constantly commented on.
The Knitted Textile Awards section featuring, amongst others, the awesome hand knitted dresses by Tuesday Rigby (originally spotted at the Degree Show at Central St Martins), a cute knitted seagull by Clare Sams, the amazing knitted bear by Heather Drage and the entire knitted cast (complete with lonely mountain coat and Peter Jackson) of The Hobbit made by The Knitting Witch who was so so lovely.
A lot of people have praised The Eternal Maker and I would like to add mine. They had SUCH a fantastic range, it was impossible to browse and not buy. I got some red geometric-y pattern fabric and some with polar bears on it. Not sure what I'm going to make with it - a cushion perhaps? Also, if I had a lot of money, I would've bought many things from Toft, home of the softest wool ever. I did get a pompom and picked up a free pattern for their bobble hat. Fabrics Galore also deserves a mention - love those guys - I got some of their chambray. Here's my haul :)

9 Oct 2014

a bit of green space to call our own

My maternal grandmother is 90 and lives just a 10 minutes walk away from my parents' house (aka, my current dwelling). She has a gigantic garden which, now that she's older, she rarely, if ever, uses it. The garden itself is divided into two sections: the lawn and flower beds (closest to the house) and, what was once my grandad's vegetable patch at the back. Although my nan has a gardener who cuts the lawn occassionally, the back part of the garden has pretty much been abandoned and, helped by the fact that there's a big tall dense hedge separating these two sections, left to grow wild.

A couple of weekends ago Mitch and I had an idea that, with my nan's permission of course, we could clear away the jungle of thorns and weeds and restore the old veg patch. Perhaps, we could even have a go at growing stuff again...

My nan said yes. So, last weekend we began.

This is what it looked like. Most of the brambles were around knee-to-waist height, some were up to my shoulder! We started to cut the hedge back too as it's crazily overgrown. Whilst clearing up, we found tonnes of weird insects (an orange neon woodlouse-type bug!) and terrifyingly large spiders. Largely thanks to Mitch making a start single-handedly on Saturday, by Sunday we'd cleared most of the plot, including a v.stubborn, seen-better-days, pampas grass plant. Here's how it's looking at the moment.

We're hoping to work on it once a week and I'm aiming to track our progress. If it's a success, it might be fun to look back on. Watch this space!

7 Oct 2014

goodies from the crafty fox market

Last Saturday my sis and I ventured to Brixton with the Crafty Fox Market in our sights. It was the least busy I've ever seen it (and I've been to a lot of them) probably due to the disgusting weather. I hope it picked up for the sellers in the afternoon and on the Sunday, but as a positive, it made it pretty easy to walk around and have a proper good nose at all the good stuff for sale. I came away with these two gems. This blooming ace dinosaur print by James Barker (which I've actually been admiring for quite some time) and the cute little succulent - complete with hexagon shaped pot! - from Pikku Potin. I'm already looking forward to the Xmas market when hopefully I'll have a bit more money to spend.

5 Oct 2014

fun breakfast #2

Today's fun breakfast :)

sesame seed bagel, toasted
generous spread of mascarpone
smoked salmon

3 Oct 2014

if at first you don't succeed...

Last Friday I finished knitting my first ever jumper.

It was rubbish.

So rubbish that, thanks to some encouragement from my mum and nan, I (along with their help) unravelled the entire thing on Sunday.
So what was the problem?

It was gigantic.

Not kinda baggy. Not over-sized and snuggly. Just massive. Suitable for two if that's your kind of thing.

Yes, before you say it, this entire mess could've been avoided VERY early on but I, being the novice that I am, blindly followed the pattern thinking that it might just be a little big. I couldn't have been more wrong. I also nearly made a second stupid mistake: to leave it as it was. Having finally completed the monstrous jumper I genuinely entertained the idea of keeping it as a 'something-to-wear-around-the-house' garment. Unravelling the whole bloody thing (which took me about a month to make) was unthinkable. Thankfully my mum and nan persuaded me otherwise and I'm so glad they did because I really love the wool and I want to make a jumper that I want to wear.

Here's the ludicrous thing in case you're curious:

So my first experience of knitting an item of clothing has not been successful BUT I've learnt a lot from it: always check your tension, DO NOT round up when deciding your size (wool stretches over time afterall) and seek help from seasoned knitters because they know what they're talking about.

It might seem odd to share something on here that was a fail but, like life, there's a lot of mistakes to learn from in craft and who knows maybe this tale of fail will come in use to someone else. I think the most important thing I've taken from this experiment is that if at first you don't succeed, don't be put off. Try again.

The back is already complete on jumper take 2, and yes, it looks like a waaaaay better size. Hopefully (fingers and toes crossed) I'll have a lovely, normal sized jumper to show you soon.
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