Tuesday, 31 August 2010


It's getting more and more difficult to deny the fact that I'm a country girl at heart. And weekends knee-deep in ruralness only provide more evidence for the case.

I love London. Really I do. Her narrow and chaotic streets; acres of stretched out wild green slapped straight on city sprawl; and her hundreds of overflowing pubs where punters perch, pints in hand, on the curb edges.

But the truth is that my hands ache to be in the soil and my feet long to climb hills. I want to make friends with the local birds, and have a big fat grumpy cat which likes to sleep on my feet in the winter time.

For the moment however, I sustain myself on small bites of countryside, like last weekend in Yorkshire. Where the farmers had just finished haymaking, and the moors were painted in a deep purple hue.

(View from Roseberry Topping - if you look closely you can see the seemingly teeny-tiny bales of hay)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Teapot fancy

We've begun a teapot collection. On Sunday in Hampstead, I started it all by investing in a little red teapot.

Last night, our newest member of the family made excellent camomille tea for three. We even broke out our best Crown Lynn for the occasion.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Goodbye Pork Pie*

Vegetarians - look away.

The other day I was given a pork pie carried all the way from Yorkshire. I'd never had a pork pie before. In fact, when it came to the next available meal time, I had no idea how to eat this pie which was much heavier than the average pie.

So I did what anyone would do if they had a pie and didn't know what to do with it. I asked the internet. It told me I should eat it cold. And probably not best to eat all of it. For your arteries' sake. Unfortunately my research also told me how this pie was made, which was something that it turns out, I really didn't want to know. But it was there now, on the bench and waiting for me to try it. And I'm all about trying new things.

And you know what? It was really good. Especially with chutney. Another piece of British culinary history ticked off the 'to do' list.

(* title will be lost on anyone who isn't from New Zealand or a lover of obscure and average early 1980s films)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Out to Africa

Today a very lovely former Franconia lady flies with her equally lovely partner in crime, to a life in Africa. Well, at least a year or two of life.

They are bound for The Gambia. For those who haven't yet looked up The Gambia to find out where the hell it is, when you do, you'll find it in Western Africa, sandwiched between Senegal.

I remember well the night we sat at the kitchen table just after Anika had found out The Gambia was on the cards. Western African geography was not a speciality of ours, so we went straight to the wonders of Wikipedia. The fact that Anika could be moving to a country we had to look up on the Internet to find the whereabouts of, was something to be marvelled at. Not to mention it being one of the few countries in the world that gets a definite article at the front of its name. That makes it even cooler.

And now they have gone. Off to new jobs, a new town, and a house with no electricity. I'm so jealous it hurts.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Corps de aeroplane

If you leave my house sometime between 6-7am on a clear-skied weekday morning, you'll get to see something quite majestic.

Walking along my road, away from the house, you hear them before you see them. Turn your head and you wont miss the first in line.

With a dull roar, this massive piece of metal passes overhead, so low you think you could just reach up and pluck it from the sky. Their bloated white bellies shine in the early morning sunlight, just their coloured tails making them different.

As this plane-shaped cut out slides across the sky, another follows straight behind it. And then another. In a long line reaching back to the horizon, they follow identical steps to a perfectly choreographed dance; the same wing dip here, an elegant arch there. All heading for home.

Thousands of people are cased in their shells, all with grainy eyes and tired legs. They're coming for business, returning from honeymoon, immigrating, and are about to begin a 'once in a lifetime' trip.

I've been up there too. Listening to the co-pilot tell me it's a beautiful day in London with a temperature of 10 degrees. Nose pressed to the window, I can see the landmarks slide by. Tower Bridge, The London Eye, the Thames snaking its way across the city. All through my own grainy eyes.

But for the moment, I'm on the outside of the window, looking up. Watching the sky dance.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Cupcake Saturday

On a greyish Saturday afternoon....

Take one slightly floured, bright red apron....

Some pretty cupcake recipe books (complete with stuck together pages)...

One beautiful, bright red, Kenwood mixer (one of my most favourite possessions in the world, probably second only to my bright red racing bike)

And create some cute little cupcakes with remarkable fluffy butter cream icing (all thanks to the marvelous mixer).

Friday, 6 August 2010

Our cabs

I saw something really cute on the way to work the other day. Down a quiet street in Southwark, there is a place where broken taxis go to be healed. There were loads of them; some parked on the street, patiently waiting for their turn; others in the midst of serious surgery, lined up with their mouths opened wide.

I do love London's cabs. Their snub noses, and rounded shape. They are said to be specially designed to be able to turn on a six-pence; and the passenger compartment has extra head room, originally for top hats. Although the flip down, backwards facing seats mean that with strong brakes applied, you could well end up in the lap of the person opposite you.

Last week a colleague and I were in Birmingham, and had a quite different taxi experience. We were collected by some Ford sedan, with a magnetic taxi company logo on the side. Aside from the logo, we could have just jumped in someone's family car. We slid across the backseat, feeling rather intimate with the driver, and a little like we might be kidnapped. When we got to the station he turned around and said "how much do you pay?" We looked at one another, completely bemused. We certainly weren't in London anymore. Eventually negotiating a fair price for both parties (£7) we slid out again, and onto the train.

It's easy to forget the wonder of London's 21,000 black cabs. Yes, they clog up the streets, and yes, they pollute the city. But I can't help think they are really quite cute.