Archive | July, 2012

Chiswick House & Gardens

30 Jul

What a glorious weekend of weather we’ve had! For once I had no concrete plans so decided to head out for an amble along the Thames Path to soak up the sun. I was heading back towards Fulham when I saw a sign to Chiswick House and Gardens – somewhere I’ve always meant to visit. I didn’t have my English Heritage card with me (you get free access to the house if you have one) but fortunately entry to the gardens is free – and it was too nice a day to be inside anyway! The gardens aren’t massive but with cascades, ornamental ponds, obelisks, walled gardens and ample wildlife, there’s enough of interest to keep you entertained – but even without they’re just a peaceful place to while away a few hours with a paper or good book. And don’t worry about going hungry – the on-site cafe is well stocked with reasonably-priced and generously-sized cakes (I recommend the crumble cake – see the picture below).

A couple of swans with their EIGHT cygnets!

Just one of many red-eared terrapins basking in the sunshine

The crumble cake – part flapjack, part Bakewell; a wonder of goodness!

A birthday to remember!

21 Jul

Am feeling totally spoilt. It was my birthday this week (19th July) and what a fantastic time of celebrations I’ve had. From dinner with JP at Polpo in Covent Garden, which does Venetian fare with a twist, on Wednesday night, to homemade cookies, muffins, and lemon drizzle cake courtesy of my work colleagues, and a trip to see The Dark Knight Rises with post-film drinks with C on Thursday, and a night of reels and jigs with my housemates, B and other close friends at the London Ceilidh Club on Friday (I’m just back!). I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped to make this birthday one of the most special ones I’ve ever had – it truly is one I’ll always remember!

Flower – and flour! – power at the Putney WI

17 Jul

                                                             

Think of the WI and, chances are, one of the first things that springs to mind is cake sales and homemade bakes. Well, despite being up and running for over four months now, last night saw the debut cake demonstration at the Putney WI. It was worth the wait! Nikki Brown, who runs a bespoke catering and cupcake company in London (nikkibrown.co.uk), had the group captivated as she showed how to create the stunning ‘floral’ bouquets pictured above. At first I couldn’t believe they were made of delicately-iced cupcakes as opposed to real roses, and it seemed an effect I could only dream of being able to achieve by myself at home. But Nikki made assembling each bouquet look so surprisingly simple (I’m assured the icing effect is all in using the right shape of nozzle) that I’m tempted to give it a go – along with her heavenly recipe for red velvet cake that we got to taste before the meeting closed. Yum!

Fresh air, fish & chips and fun with friends

15 Jul

The Ramsholt Arms

This weekend I headed out of London for a mini-staycation! I was catching up with N, a lovely friend who I used to work with in Colchester. The plan was for pub lunches and countryside walks but, sadly, the weather wasn’t on our side. However, we weren’t going to let a little of the wet stuff spoil our plans so N and I went for an adventurous drive through Suffolk, exploring off the beaten track and down narrow lanes, instead. On our travels we stumbled across The Ramsholt Arms, an uber-friendly, traditional pub right on the banks of the River Debden. It was a beautiful setting and the rain held off just long enough for us to enjoy fresh whitebait & chips in the open air. After lunch we headed to the nearby Snape Maltings,  a warren of galleries, craft stalls, and antique shops. I picked up a set of vintage, hand-embroidered linen napkins for £1.50 – bargain!

Snape Maltings

Wells, walled gardens, and Wimbledon

8 Jul

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past week or so – I don’t know where the time’s gone! Last weekend saw me head home to Somerset for a number of social occasions. On the Saturday I headed to Wells to catch up with a close friend L, who’s recently taken on an amazing hair salon called Hairdressing by Jax (hairdressingbyjax.co.uk). She’s already expanded the business to include a fish spa and has so many other exciting plans for the future – watch this space! I’m so proud of how much she’s achieved in such a small space of time – and all while balancing another full-time job!

On Sunday I was treated to the most delicious breakfast ever by godmother. She’s a member of the idyllic Babington House so we headed there for homemade granola with yoghurt and compote followed (in my case) by a Full English. Yum! Took a peak at the walled gardens and grounds on the way out (to die for!) and left wishing I could afford to become a member – or just live there permanently! I then headed to Steeple Ashton in the afternoon for a friend’s 50th and, if you’ve never been, it’s a truly beautiful village with picturesque, quintessential country gardens of fragrant roses and perfectly mown lawns.

And my highlight for this week (aside from Murray making it to the Wimbledon finals) would have to be Kew the Music on Wednesday! I’ll admit to you all now that I’m a secret M People/Heather Small fan so, when I heard she was to be performing – with 70s hit Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, the warm-up act, I had to go. Fortunately the rain showers of the day stopped in time for the show to start and I, and a former work colleague and great friend C, set up on a grassy bank with a prime view of the stage – situated in front of the Victorian Temperate House. It was a stunning evening and such a treat to see Kew Gardens in the evening, full of the buzz of excitement of our fellow music fans, all sitting around tucking into their picnics. There’s something special about listening to music on a balmy evening as the sun sets and Heather didn’t disappoint. Kew now have a series of open air cinema with The Artist, which I’m still to see, on 6 September. Should be good! kew.org