Archive | March, 2012

Support the Putney WI!

27 Mar

Tonight marked the first meeting of the Putney WI and I am pleased to say it was a huge success. I was slightly apprehensive about how many (if any!) people would turn up but fortunately 10 lovely ladies came along and we had a fantastic time getting to know each other over coffee and cake, courtesy of Tried and True (a wonderful, independent cafe at 279 Upper Richmond Road that’s worth checking out). It’s a positive start to what I hope will become a successful and supportive monthly event, giving women in the Putney community an opportunity to network, make friends, and learn new skills.

So, if you, or anyone you know, are based in the area and want to get involved, please spread the word and come along! The next meeting will be held on 16th April at 7.30pm at Tried & True, 279 Upper Richmond Road, Putney.

 

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Venice

25 Mar

View from the Campanile

This weekend saw M and I head to Venice for a wonderful three-day long getaway. It was supposed to be a surprise trip for his birthday but, although things didn’t all go to plan – one of my housemates decided to let the cat out of the bag the night before, very upsetting – we had the most amazing time nonetheless. Sunny weather, endless picturesque canals and alleyways to explore, delicious food (and drink!), and M’s long-missed company – perfecto!

Here are some of my Venetian highlights…

1. Take a water taxi. If you’ve never been to Venice before, there’s only one way to arrive your very first time – water taxi. It might be expensive to hire your own motorscafi but it’s worth every penny. Not only is there something quite fun about being whipped through the water on an open-top speed boat, but the views you get as you approach the city and breathtaking.

2. Rent an apartment. Instead of booking M and I into a hotel in Venice, I chose for us to stay in an apartment. We had a one-bed flat with living room, kitchen (if we’d wanted it!) and private sun terrace and it was like a second home. It was much more relaxed than a hotel – we could come and go as we pleased without being watched, didn’t have to rush down for breakfast within set hours, and there was something about opening your own front door that made me feel less like a tourist and more like a local!

Venice apartment

The home-from-home - Terrazza Veronese

3. See the big sites…

The Basilica - marble on the outside, gold mosaic on the inside. One word: wow!

The Campanile - get the lift to the top for breathtaking views over the city.

There are hundreds of canals to look at - don't be afraid to just wander; there are stunning views from every bridge.

Venice is famous for its churches so make sure you pop into at least one!

4. But don’t miss those off-the-beaten-track treasures too…

For some reason I never tired of the brightly coloured, and in this case simple white, displays of drying washing hanging between buildings and over canals - it made everywhere smell so fresh.

Don't pay for an expensive gondola ride, cross the river using traghetto for 50 cents - you have to stand, but that in itself makes for an exhilarating experience!

See where the gondolas get made and repaired a San Traviso - then pop around the corner to Nico's for gelato on the sea front!

The brightly-coloured masks are everywhere but it's even better when you chance upon them being made...

Don't miss the Rialto Bridge fish and veg market on Mon-Sat mornings. I'd never seen such an array like it and I'd never seen swordfish - check it out!

We wandered into a museum courtyard with beautiful gardens, fountains and this funky chair - I couldn't resist trying it out.

Around the corner from the apartment was this wonderful art shop. I couldn't resist getting a picture of all the colourful pigments being displayed in the window.

5. And take time to sample the local drinks and delicacies!

A spritz, a Bellini, cichetti, canoli… I must have eaten my weight this holiday but it was all so good.

Best for pizza – Casin dei Nobili. Pizzas are huge but light as a feather – ooh and try the meat covered olives as an aperitif; strange but oh so good.

Best for cichetti (Italian tapas) – De Fiore. The picture says it all!

Best for pastries – Fuorimenu. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this is the place to go – although you might be a while because the selection to choose from is huge.

Best in every way – La Bitta. This restaurant is perfection on a plate. Carpaccio, lasagne, and a spiced cake I’ll never forget.

M’s headed off to Southampton and I’m on my own again in Putney but I’m warm with the memories of our fantastic trip away.

Ciao for now!

One anniversary, two birthdays, and Mother’s Day

18 Mar

March has always been an expensive month for me – as you know from my last post it’s M’s birthday but, it’s also my mum and dad’s birthdays, their wedding anniversary and Mother’s Day. This weekend it was my parents’ celebrations. My dad, being an old-fashioned romantic, cleverly worked it so that they got married on my mum’s birthday and woke up on his – sweet! And it just so happened that this year, Mother’s Day fell on his birthday too.

So I’ve just got back from another fantastic trip to the West Country and, again, have eaten my weight in yummy cake made by the lovely Emma Morton-Turner (emmamortonturner.moonfruit.com). Her latest creation – for my mum’s 60th – was a two-tiered spring-inspired creation with a zesty, boozy fruit cake on the top layer and a madeira sponge on the bottom. I tasted both layers and I can confirm they were both pretty good! Was such a treat to be back in the countryside and feeling refreshed by a weekend of birdsong, daffodils and that lovely welcoming community spirit.

Happy 30th my lovely M!

11 Mar

Sorry for the lack of posts for the last week or so. Have so much to fill you in on! But, before I tell you all about my adventures of the weekend past, must just write a little note about this weekend. Have just got back from a trip home to the West Country to celebrate M’s 30th birthday (see cake below) and to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beckington Village Music Hall – a community institution!

Started M’s bday with the tastiest coffee ever and a catch up with my close friend KT in Beckington’s lovely French-inspired coffee shop Mes Amis. People come from miles around just to sample the homemade cakes and savouries so it is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

Then home to unveil M’s masterpiece of a birthday cake. Was so excited about giving this to him. It was made by the extremely talented Emma Morton-Turner (emmamortonturner.moonfruit.com) who made our wedding cake and she’d themed it all around his traineeship and him heading off to sea. It provided quite a talking point and when we served it up (after Wales beat Italy in the rugby, hooray!) I’m pleased to say it tasted just as amazing as it looked.

M's 30th birthday cake

M's 30th birthday cake

But the main celebrations didn’t happen until the evening when we headed to the local village hall for the last night of the Music Hall, an evening of cabaret, comedy sketches, and community entertainment that was celebrating it’s 25th anniversary. I should say here that this is more than just a village show. People travel from around the UK and queue from 4am in the morning just to get tickets. It’s an annual institution in the village and a prime opportunity for everyone to get together, have a laugh, and raise money for a good cause. And, for M, it was another chance to enjoy some cake when a surprise one was brought out in the interval complete with firework-like sparklers.

A perfect way to mark a very special day.

Happy bday M!!!