An evening with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Hot Fuzz on the big screen!

On Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to go to a special charity showing of Hot Fuzz at the wonderful Broadway Cinema in Letchworth. Adam and I go to the beautiful Art Deco picture house often, preferring it to the nearby multiplex, but this of course was an even more fun night than usual…..

The team who brought us Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz have recently been filming the third in their ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ in Letchworth, which is the next door neighbour town to Hitchin, where I live. As a thank you to Letchworth, they agreed to put on the special screening as well as a Q&A session. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright came along to the cinema to take questions sent ahead online, as well as from some of us there…. in fact I even managed to ask a question myself!

I’m sure you’ll all be glad to know that I managed to unlock the vital secret of ‘If you were a Cornetto, what flavour would you be?’ Simon’s answer was ‘the classic Nut’ whilst Edgar claimed he was more like the Strawberry flavour. Neither explained why though.

They were also asked if there was any way they could premier the new film, ‘World’s End’, at the little local cinema, and despite explaining that the big premier just has to be in Leicester Square, they did promise to come back to Lewtchworth to present a very special Gala screening there….so I’ll look forward to that!

We didn’t hear very many spoilers about the new film (probably for the best), although it was great to hear some of the funny stories from the filming….about how they thought Letchworth was the perfect Garden City to shoot their pub crawl film in, until they realised it was originally a ‘dry town’….how they turned the train station into a pub and confused lots of commuters….and how because of the terrible weather, they had to have a fire truck during all the shoots to water the pavements for continuity!

Lots of people seemed to leave after the Q&A, presumably to chase after the pair for autographs and photos, but I was super excited to see Hot Fuzz…. I didn’t catch it at the cinema when it came out, but have watched it many times since and find it a brilliant film. It was even better seeing it on the big screen, and it’s definitely one of those that you can watch dozens of times and still find new things in every time you do. It was wonderful to hear an audience of fans laughing out loud together, and the action sequences were so much more fun to watch all bigified!

I now can’t wait to see the new film, in which five friends reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier, only to become humankind’s only hope for survival. I have to wait until August though.

A big thank you though to the Broadway Cinema, Letchworth Heritage Foundation, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright!

Ems x

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My pick from the Red Carpet

It’s all been building up to today…the weeks of warming up, sneak peaks and the rest of awards season….and now our wait is over….we get to see what everyone wore to the Oscars!

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I’m just as much into cinema as I am fashion, but really for me, the Academy Awards are all about the pretty frocks. I rarely agree with who The Academy choose to win, and the cynic in me fears it’s pretty political anyway (I won’t get into the whole Skyfall debate again for fear of raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels), and I’ve never once watched the whole award-giving bit through.

But, snoop, judge and nosey at what everyone wore I CAN do! And here are my favourites from this year…..

I think Reese Witherspoon gets a bit of stick for choosing rather girly dresses for these things, and if I could remember anything she’d ever worn before (brain like a sieve, me) maybe I’d agree. But whilst you couldn’t ask for a more feminine silhouette than this number by Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, I think she’s pulled off an incredibly glamorous look this year. I’m crazy about the cobalt blue (big for this Autumn I’m hoping!) and her curves are to die for.

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Hello Audrey Hepburn! Anne Hathaway has been going up in my estimation for a while now, and her super cute crop is just beautiful in my opinion. Her gorgeously simple Prada dress matches her look perfectly, and she’s just heavenly in those delicate blush tones. The dress manages to be both modern and classic at the same time, as does Miss Hathaway.

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I adore Amy Adams…she’s cute as a button and always unassumingly elegant. I wasn’t sure at first about the frothiness of her layered tulle dress by Oscar de la Renta, but this IS the Oscars after all, and the pretty lavender shade is stunning with her lovely red hair.

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Just look at all that shiny! I’m a sucker for a heavily draped skirt, and Amanda Seyfried’s dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen is a perfect red carpet number. It’d be a little bridal if not for the elegant key-hole neckline, but again, this IS the Oscars so ‘look-at-me’ factor is par for the course.

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And speaking of bridal…here’s the one everyone has been talking about. It would be plain wrong to say that Jennifer Lawrence looked anything less than stunningly enchanting in her Christian Dior gown, and the silhouette is simply incredible. But, I can’t help but think that it’s a little too white, and if only it had some straps going on I’d be fantasising about wearing it on my wedding day! Still, ‘when in Rome’ and all that….and Raf Simons sure has shown the rest how to create a showstopper.

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My somewhat unlikely favourite though is Jessica Chastain’s Armani Prive dress. Actually, it’s more like the complete package in honesty, as Chastain looks nothing short of the ultimate Hollywood starlet with her red lips, curled red hair and porcelain skin.
If *I* was going to the Oscars, this is how I’d want to look!

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Now you know I’m not much cop at talking about what the boys wear….I know their suits are *techincally* different, but I just can’t get myself interested in the particular cut of a dinner jacket. But, I would like to take a moment to talk about facial hair.

Usually I’d say that an event such as the Oscars absolutely calls for a clean shaven face. However, as fiance to a beardy man myself, I have to admit that I’ve been swooning over the Hollywood chaps who chose to keep their chins warm this year….  Bradley Cooper, Ben Afleck, Liev Schreiber, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman all sported rather dashing facial hair, and the silver fox himself, George Clooney, looked yummy. Nicely done boys.

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So, which were your favourites? And are you pleased with the winners?!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. adventures with apples

Boy was it good to have a nice simple weekend in our new home finally! It’s lovely to be busy and have lots of things to do, but I have really enjoyed just mooching about the house this weekend! We are nearly there on getting the place sorted (all boxes are now unpacked!!!) and have even hung most of our pictures.

Still, we did get out of the house a little and I’ve grown even more in love with my new local area…..

On Saturday morning, after a much needed lie-in, we yummed up poached duck eggs on toasted English muffins, then took the short walk into town. I’d completely forgotten that it was Apple Day in the old market square (despite getting all excited when I heard about it!) so it was a lovely surprise to find all sorts of apple-themed stalls there. As well as stalls for local farmers and their various types of lovely produce, there were bric-a-brac stalls and a tombola….plus a game of throw the maggots into the apple! Love it!

We pottered about for a while, buying a few bits and bobs we needed, and having a nosey about. I found a gorgeous Hornsea Fauna deer vase for my collection in the Oxfam shop, which I was very excited about! We had a stroll through the market too and picked up some lovely large pomegranates, as well as a huge chocolate muffin and an enormous cream donut!

We scoffed those back at home with a cup of tea, before making our way to Letchworth to drop off the mountains of cardboard we’d accumulated and to have a look for some bits of furniture we still need. We managed to pick up a lovely little plant stand for the stair well, but are still searching for bed side tables and our dream cocktail bar! Adam also picked up a wonderful vintage tweed jacket though, and we were both delighted to meet several darling greyhounds who were in town with the Greyhound Rescue West of England. We spent a good while meeting the wonderful dogs, who have the softest ears imaginable, and just love to snuggle up to you. We found out that it’s possible to foster them, or even just have them stay for the weekend for some post-op R&R, so we really want to look into that!

After supper, we decided to snuggle up on the sofa to watch a film. I’m incredibly excited about Skyfall (the new James Bond film) coming out this week, so we opted to watch Casino Royale to get into the spirit! Adam’s been practicing his cocktail making skills, so he rather aptly decided to make us Martinis to drink whilst we watched. He’s getting really good and they were delicious (although I still prefer his amazing Whisky Sours!).

It was another lie in on Sunday morning, and a bit more sorting out around the house. I also took some time to ‘feed’ my various Christmas offerings….. extra brandy went into the three cakes I’ve made, as well as the mince meat, and more rum went into my first attempt at Christmas pudding! We couldn’t resist a very quick trip to the market though, where there is a car boot sale each Sunday….well, it’s just so close! We managed to come back without buying anything though, which I think is a first!

We’d been lucky enough to be sent a nice big bag of cooking apples, which were harvested on Friday from Adam’s brother’s garden, and so I baked up some little apple pies for our afternoon tea……for which we were joined by dear friends Holly and Jamie, as well as their three super-cute children. We had great fun showing them the new house (especially as the children were so excited about all the secret doorways and all the different rooms) and indeed entertaining the children (although perhaps it was more a case of them entertaining us!). It seemed very quiet once they’d all gone, and I packed away the treasure box I’d been showing them, and the fake mustaches they dressed up in!

We had left over cottage pie for supper, and spent the evening writing letters and emails, before our sleepy heads got the better of us and we retired to bed with Horlicks and books.

What a lovely, relaxed weekend!

How was yours?

Ems x

Living for the weekend….. Tempting me back to London

Although I’ve made it back into London several times since moving (it’s just SO quick and easy!), I have mainly enjoyed my weekends locally. There’s still lots I want to do around here, and I’ve been really enjoying discovering more about my new ‘hood. But with a stack of fun things to do in London coming up all of a sudden, I know I’ll be tempted back soon!

As usual, there’s a whole host of special events and limited exhibitions taking place in London….and as of this weekend there are a good half a dozen that I feel were specially designed to tempt me back!…..

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Runs until 27th January 2012, Daily Entry 10am to 6pm

Free Admission

I am so incredibly excited to see this exhibition which showcases the work of the amazing contemporary fashion photographer, Tim Walker. Known for his extravagant style, fairytale theatrics and playful scale, Walker is a total hero of mine. Supported by Mulberry (who hosted a star studded opening party this week), the show will focus largely on the photos themselves, but also features some of his best known props and set pieces.

Twin Peaks UK Festival 2012

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

20th October, 9:30 am til late

Tickets from £60

It is happening again……‘ The Twin Peaks UK Festival is back this weekend at the Riverside Studios. Debuting in Twin Peaks’ 20th anniversary year in 2010, with a follow up event last year, the festival includes screenings, performances, actor Q&A, cabaret, and of course ridiculous amounts of donuts and cherry pie! Twin Peaks is my all time favourite TV show in fact…..so if you’ve not seen it I suggest you do!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

Natural History Museum

19th October 2012 to 3rd March 2013, Daily 10am to 5:50pm

Adult tickets £10

This world-renowned exhibition has been an annual event for me for a good few years now. Hosting the 100 winning images from the competition on stunningly produced backlit screens, the exhibition is a must for all photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Hollywood Costume Exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum

20th October 2012 to 27th January 2013

Adults £15.50 (advanced booking is advised with timed tickets)

This exciting exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable costumes from a century of Hollywood filmmaking. Split into three galleries (‘Act 1: Deconstruction,’ ‘Act 2: Dialogue,’ and ‘Act 3:Finale’) the show promises to take us on a journey through the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is filled with treasures never before seen by the public, including the famous Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Until 17th February 2013

Free Entry

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is again hosting the winning images of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I’ve been going to this marvelous free exhibition for years, and wouldn’t miss it! The photography showcased here every year is just mind blowing, and this year features incredible new images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space, and including comets, nebulae, aurorae and the transit of Venus.

Crazee Golf

Tintype Gallery, Farringdon

Until 27th October 2012

Open Wednesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm

Curators Oona Grimes & Teresa Grimes invite you to take part in a game of Crazee Golf…..and I can’t resist a game of crazy golf! Featuring 18 holes created by 18 artisits, the exhibition is an artistic representation of the ‘faux world’ of this wonderful British tradition.

Look out London! You’re not rid of me yet!

Ems x

Guest Post: Living for the Weekend with Siobhan Claude Van-Damme

Hello, Siobhan here from Siobhan Claude Van-Damme filling in for Emily as she moves away from London and settles into her new home.

As Emily leaves London, I’m going to look at all the wonderful things happening here this weekend with Open House London…… London will miss Emily and I think it is trying to lure her back with these great events is on. Here is my pick…..

Saturday
Daylight Music at the Union Chapel

Daylight Music is a great series of free music events held at lunchtime at the Union Chapel in Islington.  It is a great way to hear new music and a lovely way to spend Saturday lunchtime.  For Open House they are opening early at 10.30 on both Saturday and Sunday with the show starting at the usual time of noon on the Saturday.  It is a particularly good line-up on Saturday too with electro-folk from Golden Fable.  Though the events are free they do recommend a donation of £3 towards running costs which I think is a snip for such a well put together event in such a beautiful setting.

Daylight Music is from 12pm-4pm on Saturday and the Open House will be from 10.30am – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday and it free to attend with no booking required.

Angel Building

The Angel Building is also in Islington and open on Saturday (from 10am – 5pm) and it looks just stunning.  This RIBA and BCO award winning building is a glossy reinvention of an 80s office block showcasing some stunning technology and design.  I want to go and marvel at the views through the central space and at the energy efficient glazed skin it has been wrapped in.

Angel House will be open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 1-5pm on Sunday with last entry at 4.15pm.  No booking is required but you may have to queue.

The Jewel Box

While in Islington who could resist visiting somewhere called The Jewel Box? The name alone makes me think of Emily and her beautiful jewelley designs.  The architects describe the building on their website as follows

“Conceived as a series of jewelled boxes carefully inserted into the existing fabric, the proposals open up and revitalise what was a series of dark disjointed spaces. Timber and concrete have been combined in a simple palette of materials that wrap around the existing fabric, inviting the user through the space and into the garden. The remaining period architectural features are retained and celebrated whilst the rear addition utilises a double canted wildflower roof to bounce light deep into the floor plate.”

I can’t wait to see this.

The Jewel Box is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday with tours every half hour until 5pm on a first come, first served basis.

Sunday

Lewisham Art House

I pass Lewisham Art House every day on my way to work and have had colleagues exhibit there but have never visited.  I think London Open House weekend could be when I finally get it together to go and visit.  Lewisham Art House is a beautiful Grade II listed old library that has been turned into artist studios in the heart of New Cross.  There are various exhibitions through the years and London Open House is a great chance to check out the architecture and spaces in this beautiful building.

It will be open on Sunday from 1-5pm with tours every 15 minutes and no booking is required.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens

Ems has written before about the Horniman and I would recommend this chance (and any) to have a look around at this beautiful setting.  I even considered getting married there at one point as I do love the place so very much.  As an example of the arts and crafts style of architecture it is interesting just as a building but this time you can get tours of the recently refurbished gardens and bandstand.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am-5.30pm but garden tours will only be on Saturday at 2 and 3pm – you can book these by emailing marketing@horniman.ac.uk

 

The Capitol (Formerly Forest Hill Cinema)

I often head to Forest Hill and when I walk past the Capitol I am always slightly sad that this clearly once beautiful art deco cinema is now a Wetherspoons pub, even if I am glad it means the building is still alive.  As such, a chance to look around and see more of the building and explore the history of it is really appealing.

The Capitol is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday but you must book for the architect tours by calling 020 8291 8920

 

Enjoy!

Living for the weekend…. August Bank Holiday 2012 in London

Loooooong weekend!!!!! Yes, it’s here….the last bank holiday before Christmas!

We will acutally be up in Hitchin, where we’re moving next month. But I know that if we weren’t I’d be making the most of all the things going on in London….in fact we’ll be taking every opportunity to make the most of London before we leave in a few weeks!

Here’s my pick of the best stuff to do this weekend….maybe I’ll even get chance to pop along to one or two things on Monday…..

London Picnic Club at the Skyroom

“Running for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics, the Skyroom designed by young architect David Kohn (creator of a Room for London atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall in South Bank) will gradually undergo a transformation into a garden with a difference- a colourful, living and breathing roof top oasis allowing guests to retreat from the London chaos below.

Share and enjoy exquisite food presented in the form of surprising picnic hampers, take part in garden games, catch a variety of exclusive and intimate  live music acts or stretch out on blankets and cushions to watch one of our especially selected movies at our mini screen on the green. The primary focus of the London Picnic Club involves a progressive and evolving food and drink menu that will show a strong relation to our developing roof top garden installation- keeping things seasonal and directly interactive with our space.

The experience is aimed to be surprising at all times, where our guests will discover new flavours in a playful and dynamic environment that brims full of creativity and connects people in new ways…

Platterform’s new head chef Alejandro Bello (of Ceviche fame) has collected and carefully reinvented select dishes from various corners of the world all assembled beautifully inside an iconic British picnic hamper. Designed as a sharing meal, expect London Picnic Club hampers to contain inspirational tapas style hot dishes, innovative ceviches and fresh garden salads as well as a fine selection of produce from local suppliers including artisanal bread from St. John’s Bakery, cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy and charcuterie from Brindisa all served with home-made preserves and dips. Exotic desserts, fresh Summer fruits and surprising treats complete the package.

Drinks take inspiration from the quintessential British Summer garden where Platterform delve into the world of experimentation using their own garden ingredients to make shrubs (fruit preserves), infusions, cordials and bitters to combine with premium spirits, fresh fruits and hand picked garden herbs.

Grab your favourite picnic blanket and gather your friends for a once in a life time picnic experience!”

 £35 per person, advanced bookings via www.londonpicnicclub.eventbrite.com

Until 8th September (Monday-Friday  11am-10.30pm, Saturday  12pm-10.30pm)

The Floating Market moves to Little Venice

As you may have read, I went along to the floating market on Regent’s Canal a few weeks ago, whilst it was at Mile End….. the market has now set sail for pretty Little Venice though, so head there for yummy cakes, hat stalls, floating book shops and all sorts!

Until 2nd September, free entry

Frightfest

“Originally conceived by Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Alan Jones, FrightFest staged its first event in 2000 at the Prince Charles cinema, near London’s Leicester Square. Its August Bank Holiday weekend date has remained a fixture ever since……. The objective of FrightFest was to provide the UK with a horror fantasy festival of similar stature to the market leaders in Europe, Sitges (Spain) and Brussels (Belgium). FrightFest has since evolved into a community where audiences and guests alike travel from all over the world to be part of the event’s unique atmosphere.”

Tickets are available from the Empire Cinema box office and here

Festival passes for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday are £160.  Single tickets are £12.

 

“Guilty Pleasures is London’s biggest, boldest, brashest and best night out. Packed with relentlessly energetic djs, acrobatic bedazzling dancers, live bands and speciality performers galore, over seven years it has established itself as the capital’s number one top spot for a P.A.R.T.Y. This Saturday 25th August, in collaboration with Time Out Live and MGM HD GP are bringing the most ambitious and thrilling party at London’s decadent Troxy Cinema with a live, interactive and exciting event where the worlds of cinema, music and nightlife collide in one colossal party…… 80s pop takes centre stage as Guilty Pleasures Cinema Party presents: Desperately Seeking Susan.”
The Troxy, Commercial Road
Saturday 25th August, 8pm – 2am, £10

Supperclub Carnival Weekend

“This weekend, we will be having an exceptionally turned on line up with our outside inside carnival special with a carnival themed menu with a serious twist…… With an extra special line up of entertainment for the club night we will be taking the carnival from the streets onto the sheets where we will be inviting party goers down for our carnival afterparty to enjoy our beds and booze late into the night.”

General Admission is £20

Events on over the whole weekend

If I make it to just one thing on Monday, it’ll have to be this!…..

Paw Pageant 2012

“The capital’s best-dressed, fugliest and smartest dogs will be hitting the dogwalk here at Old Spitalfields Market on Monday 27th August. Paw-perfect pooches will be competing to win prizes in eight categories, from ‘Dressed Up to the K-Nines’ to ‘Shoreditch Show Off’. There will also be a small specialist market selling a variety of great gear and tasty grub to pamper your pooch. In addition a glorious raffle by canine couturist’s LoveMyDog will be auctioned in aid of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.”

Monday, Old Spitalfields Market, 1pm to 3:30pm, free

Have a fab one whatever you do!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. rain, rain go away!

Well that worked! The rain *appears* to have given up for a while….. I wish it had earlier! What a grey weekend! Still, got plenty of indoorsy stuff done, and I guess we need the water…..

The weekend began with a Friday night visit to the cinema….. If I’m very honest, I didn’t hold out much hope for ‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists’ because I’d read (and loved) the books, and didn’t think the trailers nearly measured up to them. So that’s why it took us so long to see it, but I’m so very glad we did! The film is laugh-out-loud-funny from start to end…. the voice actors are brilliant and superbly cast (although I had always imagined the Pirate Captain’s voice as that of Brian Blessed when reading the books!) and I loved all the little trade mark details of comedy in the background. Pretty much everyone else in the cinema had kids with them, but it was so wasted on them…. Adam and I were guffawing all the time, but all the jokes went over the kids’ heads. So anyone that has skipped it because they thought it was a kids’ film should think again…. or read the books, which I would recommend just as much!

Getting home late(ish) we had a quick and naughty supper of pizza and chips (yum!) before I neatly polished my nails and finished packing up my craftiness ready for the morning…..

Saturday saw my second stall at a craft market, and I was super excited to do it all over again. The Wonder Hill Market is a monthly craft and vintage fair, very local to me in Borough, near London Bridge. We were let down again by transport…. what should have been a quick bus ride and a little walk turned into a very quick bus ride and a long, rainy walk, because yet again our bus is on some silly weekend diversion. It’s even more frustrating because I have no idea why! Anyway, we got there without getting too wet, and I was showed to my table ready to set up. It was rather smaller than my last table, which was only a shame because I had made even more things to sell than at my last one! So, with great difficulty, I held stuff back in order to fit things nicely (although still with my trademark ‘looks like a junk shop’ cramming) and was pretty satisfied with my presentation again.

Once set up, Adam and I took it in turns to have a snoop around the other stalls….. we both immediately fell in love with a stall very near to us, which was shared by a lovely couple of designer-makers. Actually comprising of three ‘brands’ the stall hosted stunning jewellery by Tri And Gull, wonderful prints by illustrator Sam Blown and (my favourite) a collection of marvellous brooches which are a collaboration of the two called Oh Pair. Adam snapped up two lovely little badges with super cute dog drawings…love!

Unfortunately, the market was pretty quiet and low on foot traffic due to the horrid weather, so we didn’t have nearly the rush of sales I had at the last one. Still, it was nice to meet all the other stall holders, make a few sales and eat lots of yummy cake by the awesome Vintage Cake Company. Despite filling our faces all day though, we opted to make our post-stall chinese take out a tradition, and ordered up a feast which we ate in front of the TV….. we finished the first season of The Wire (loved it!) and also watched one of my favourite Audrey Hepburn films, Charade, which also stars the gorgeous Cary Grant to boot.

By Sunday morning, weary from a hard day’s work at the market, we were in need of a lie in followed by a naughty breakfast of waffles. We cancelled out the naughtiness though with fresh fruit. And then it was a real day for domestic stuff….. I began unpacking from the market…. did lots of house plant maintenance (one of them has a horrid bug thing so I gave them all some attention!)…. and started a bit of a spring clean. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy de-frosting the freezer…. having wrapped up the contents in old blankets and nested them in the shower, I began what for most is a rather dull task. But not for me! I love the thrill of the ice falling, and taking out my anger with the weather with a wooden spatular!

And that was pretty much my day…. in between cups of tea and watching Adam play his new computer game (Journey…. which is stunning!). We finished the day with a yummy home made Spag Bol and then watched some more Mad Men (which I am loving but Adam is struggling to get into). A much deserved day of rest I think!

Hope your weekend wasn’t too blighted by the rain!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. back oop North: a visit to Leeds

Did you have a good weekend? I certainly did! I was so busy yesterday though that I couldn’t share it on the Monday as usual…. I couldn’t wait to put my weekend purchases to use (more revealed later!).

On Thursday morning (starting the weekend early as ever), we packed ourselves some cheese sandwiches and a flask of coffee, and made our way to Kings Cross for another trip up North. Adam’s brother and sister in law live in Leeds with two wonderful dogs, so we were looking forward to a visit, and seeing some friends up there too.

Out walking the dogs, view from our window, snuggling up with the dogs

As soon as we arrived at the house, it was straight outdoors for a walk with the dogs….. we had left behind a foggy, grey London, so it was a delight to get outside into the countryside, under a much bluer sky. On our return, it was time for tea, and we began our weekend of gluttony with scones (with jam and clotted cream of course) and smoothies (to try to be healthy). We mooched about for the afternoon, chatting, putting the world to rights etc. until a supper of garlic and chilli pasta (I must get the recipe) followed by a film.

I’m not sure how we missed Warrior at the cinema (anything with Tom Hardy is usually prioritised), but I’m so pleased to have finally seen it. When I was asked if I’d like to watch a film about cage fighting, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but as one would hope, this film has much more to it. Telling the story of two estranged brothers, and how they transpired to enter the same cage fighting tournament, it’s impossible not to grow fond of several of the characters…… By the time of the big fights at the end of the film, I was really rooting for them. The fighting itself is pretty compelling too, and I have to say I came away thinking I really must go and see some in real life! (I believe they often have events like that at the Troxy so will be keeping an eye out!)

Smoothie, Scones, Pancakes

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs, and another walk with the dogs, Friday morning saw us walking into nearby Farsley for a few errands. As we arrived to the bottom of the high street, we were enchanted to see the old fashioned grocers and DIY shop, and as we walked up the high street to the little Post Office, I was very taken in by this charming, Yorkshire village. Having posted my parcel (another order from my Folksy shop), we took a look into a little haberdashers I’d had recommended, R.L. and C.M. Bond Ltd. I was immediately blown away by the walls upon walls of buttons and ribbons, and soon began rooting through the little baskets of vintage haberdashery. I came away rather poorer in purse, although very much richer in buttons! I couldn’t wait to turn them into new treasures, on rings, cufflinks, bracelets etc….. and so that’s what I did for most of yesterday!

Farsley High Street, R.L. & C.M. Bond Haberdashers

We made our way into town on Friday evening, to meet dear friends Craig and Sheli. It was Sheli’s birthday yesterday, so we celebrated with dinner at Little Tokyo. We’ve all been meaning to go for a while, and it was certainly worth the wait. We started with cocktails in the little bar area upstairs, next to the cute koi pond…. Sheli had their Apple Mojo, Adam sampled the Blackberry Martini, and I went for a twist on my old favourite, their Bloody Geisha. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could really taste the wasabi used in place of Tabasco, without it being dreadfully hot…. in fact I really enjoyed this version so may well try it at home!

Little Tokyo, Bloody Geisha Cocktail

Next, we were lead downstairs to a beautiful dining area with chunky wooden tables and sunken seating. Adam and I shared a starter of perfect vegetable tempura, before our Bento box mains (Adam and I went for the tofu steak, Sheli the chicken teriyaki, and Craig the chicken katsu) all of which came with yummy rice, ginger-dressed salad and more of the wonderful tempura. Ours were about £12, and I can certainly vouch for their value….we were totally stuffed with the delicious meal and struggled to quite finish!

Tofu Bento Box, Little Tokyo, Vegetable Tempura

And we really would have left it there, had we not been presented with such alluring dessert menus….. (Japanese fortune cookies with sesame and coconut….. green tea ice cream….. ginger cheesecake with cointreau sorbet….. coconut ice cream….. lychee ice cream…..) but we really couldn’t turn down such wonderful sounding dishes, despite our groaning tummies. Sheli had a lovely strawberry sorbet, which came served in a bowl made from ice, in which were slices of kiwi and rose petals (will be copying that idea!)…. Craig went for the amazing ‘crispy parcels’ which are essentially marshmallow spring rolls (utterly incredible!)…. and Adam and I shared the delicious Japanese style profiteroles, which are filled with ice cream and topped with a yummy sweet seaweed and sesame sauce. We could not have been much more impressed…. I was particularly pleased to see Adam had enjoyed the meal, having spent time in Japan and struggling to find a good authentic Japanese restaurant in England.

Japanese Profiteroles, Strawberry Sorbet, Marshmallow Spring Rolls

The gluttony didn’t stop there though, as we breakfasted on pancakes with maple syrup on Saturday morning, before heading out to explore a newly opened exhibition at the University of Leeds. ‘Marks in Time’ opened on the Friday at the Marks and Spencer Company Archive, and is a permanent exhibition featuring just some of the amazing collection there. To celebrate the 100th birthday of Marks & Spencer in 1984, they began to collect together hundreds of historical items from all over the Company and created the M&S Company Archive. A dedicated team at the site has put together and catalogued more than 70,000 items from the last 128 years, charting the iconic brand’s history.

Starting with the company’s early years, large glass cabinets displayed cards of buttons, pretty tea cups, clocks and household necessities….. it wasn’t until the 1920s cabinet that clothing began to appear. The exhibition is a real reflection on fashion history though, as well as social history, charting trends throughout rationing, post-war optimism, and developments in food technology. True innovators, the display explains how M&S became the first store to sell fresh chicken using their ‘cold-chain’ method, and began to stock innovative new products such as Terylene and the chicken kiev!

It’s not a huge exhibition, but it is well curated and interesting, and with hands-on displays, dressing up and even a colouring in table, I’d say it’s well worth a look-in if you’re nearby. And it’s free to get in.

Next, we ventured back into town, and decided to investigate the Silver 70s exhibition at Leeds City Museum. Running until Sunday 22nd April, the free exhibition celebrates a highly eventful decade, inviting visitors to explore a house in 1970s Leeds. Filled with typically colourful and garish wallpaper and fashions, the exhibition features some very recognisable and much loved (by me at least) home wares, books and toys….. in each room I spotted memories in the form of Sooty puppets, a copy of Tufty, Fisher Price pull-along dogs, pastel coloured Tupperware (that my Mum still has!), stainless steel tea sets and that big plastic tree house toy that I think we had at nursery school.

Having been born in the 80s I was surprised to see so many things I recognised, but then I suppose things didn’t move quite so fast then….. and I’m not ashamed either, to say that I truly enjoyed the exhibition’s soundtrack of The Carpenters, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and The Commodores. I also loved the interactive elements….. design your own outfit and wallpaper based on 1970s fashion….. digging for fruit and veg reflecting the ‘grow your own’ culture and the wonderful ‘The Good Life’ show. I also got the chance to design my own Jubilee plate, next to a cabinet filled with Silver Jubilee memorabilia….. I can’t wait to see the equivalent collections for this year’s Diamond Jubilee! I wouldn’t at all mind a home filled with the gorgeous furniture and nick-nacks we saw though, and even the lime green kitchen units! Again, well worth a visit for anyone my age and older if you’re in the area.
By that time, we needed a sit down and some sustenance. We found both in the stunning Tiled Hall which sits between the Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery. Surrounded by gorgeously ornate green tiles, grand marble columns, a barrel-vaulted mosaic ceiling and the original parquet flooring (all only recently rediscovered), we ate yummy courgette and lime cake, and Caramac ginger fudge cake, along with great coffee. You can actually hire the hall for events….which I’ve mentally noted for future!

Afterwards we wandered a little into the gallery next door (especially enjoying the excellent Stanley Spencer paintings on the staircase) before heading over to snoop about the shops in the Victorian Quarter. I love the old arcades and the pedestrianised high street, not to mention the excellent selection of shops there! The Harvey Nichols window display was as impressive as ever, but better still were the windows at Mulberry which I’m sure were designed to tell Adam to buy me one of the Alexa hand bags cunningly draped over giant ice creams. He didn’t take the hint though unfortunately!

Dolls in the window at Mary Shortle, Leeds City Museum, Window at Harvey Nichols

For dinner, it had to be a trip to Bradford for a curry. We were super impressed by the extensive vegetarian options and gorgeous dishes at Saffron Desi…. the best of which was probably Vera’s Lahore Nihari Special with lamb cooked on the bone. My Channa Paneer Biryani was delicious too, and it was refreshing to see so many options for the vegetarian biryani…. rather than just the same thing as the others with the meat taken out!

Heading home rather stuffed, we settled down to watch How To Train Your Dragon, which Adam has been going on about for ages. It didn’t disappoint, and he’s probably right that it’s one of the best non-Pixar animations of recent years.

Sweet Lassi, Lollipop reward at Saffron DEsi

It was a slightly earlier start on Sunday, so that we could eat our breakfast of pancakes before heading over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in good time. I’ve been wanting to go for ages, and the clear day promised some good photo time. The park is a wonderful place that “aims to challenge, inspire, inform and delight”, and is visited by some 300,000 visitors every year. Open all year round, there is really nowhere like it I know of to see amazing artwork in the open air. The grounds themselves are worth the visit, and it was lovely to wander about with the dogs (who are allowed in nearly all the outdoor spaces whilst on a lead), especially on a gorgeous spring day.

There is certainly something about seeing such stunning sculptures in the remarkable landscape too, and in the natural light. I loved finding the next piece as we explored gardens, fields and woods. My favourites included Anthony Caro’s ‘Promenade’ which appears to be watching over the beautiful and expansive lake….. Antony Gormley’s ‘One and Another’ which is a surprise find atop a huge tree trunk, rather like those hidden on top of landmarks such as The Roundhouse….. Marcia Farquhar’s beautiful, giant rocking horse, ‘The Horse Is A Noble Animal’…… and Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ‘Seated Figures’ which preside in duplicated, rusted form next to the charming Camelia House. I also enjoyed spying at the menagerie through the trees (we had to take the route adjacent to the menagerie path with the dogs) and adored the almost secret grotto, Lady Eglinton’s Well, which is carved into rocks next to the reservoir damn. A little owl sculpture which used to sit above the stone dating the well to 1685 has long gone, but the spring it was built around still creates a well in front of the grotto, which was a gift to local people.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

As we crossed over the pretty bridge back to the car park, I was reminded of one of my interviews for my degree course, which actually took place at Bretton Hall, the house in the centre of the park. The others marvelled that I’d chosen London over this picturesque setting to go to college, and I had to rather wonder why I’d not been more tempted to spend my student days there. Still, things would have worked out rather differently I’m sure, so I’m grateful for my choice. We will certainly be visiting the sculpture park again though (which is free to enter…you just pay to park) as there is so much more to explore…. I’m hoping we can go in the summer for a whole day and take a picnic to eat on the lawn. I really can’t recommend a trip there enough.

Bretton Hall and Grounds at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We drove home via Blacker Hall Farm Shop…. we’d foolishly hoped to have lunch in the restaurant there, forgetting that it was Mother’s Day. It was fully booked of course, but we still enjoyed pootling about the farm shop, tasting home made cakes and picking up some bits to tide us over….. including what is probably the best cheese scone I have ever tasted!

After we’d returned and packed ready to leave, we snoozed away the afternoon snuggled on the sofa with the dogs. But soon it was time to head back to the station to make our way back to London. The journey passed brilliantly fast as we watched a few episodes of my new favourite New Girl though, and before long, we were home for a much needed early night!

Ems x

P.S. My proper photos of the weekend are on my Flikr page, here…..

Sorting my growing button collection back at home

Something from the weekend….. a rather rainy weekend

This weekend was a wonderfully long one, owing to Adam having to take some days holiday before the end of the month. And so on Thursday evening we trotted off to the station to catch a train up to his home town of Hitchin. It was getting late by the time we arrived so there wasn’t much time to do anything (especially after the catch up chats) other than have dinner. Adam’s Mum had cooked us the most delicious veggie bake….layers of different veg with mozzarella in between and all topped with herby breadcrumbs. Yum!

Our excuse for visiting was that it was actually Adam’s Mum’s birthday weekend. And so I was very excited about giving her the home made gifts I had made….. as well as a yummy banana loaf I had painted two canvases for her, one of each of her dogs. She was absolutely delighted with them too, and we were all pleased to yum up the banana bread over the weekend!

Banana Bread

On Friday morning (trying to remember it wasn’t yet Saturday!) we popped into town to go to the lovely flea market that’s there every Friday. We’ve had some real success there before, having found some wonderful vintage buttons and my incredible 50cm high Victorian Bell Cloche on the last visit. This time it was a darling little white leather flask I couldn’t resist….. I bought it for just £9 from the military stall, and it has a wonderful silver badge on the front with my initials (also the Queen’s!).

Vintage military hip flask from Hitchin Flea Market

We also couldn’t resist the chalk board sign in the window at Halsey’s (the gorgeous little tea room / gallery / deli just off the market square which dates back to 1854) which advertised Wookey Hole Cave Aged Cheddar as the best cheese in the world…..and so in we went to buy a large chunk for lunch when we got home. And we can certainly concur with the judges…..melted on toast in the Aga it was absolutely delicious….just the right balance of creaminess, sharpness and a little earthiness which comes from aging the makers’ truckles inside the famous cave.

Wookey Hole Cave Aged Cheddar from Halsey's

In the evening, it was off to Letchworth and the sweet little Broadway Cinema there. It was lovely to have a change from our usual large cinema in London….the audience were much better behaved and the auditorium is very charming in Deco styling. The film was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and we all loved it….. I’m so very fond of many of its cast (Judie Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith…..) and it really is a very funny and heart warming film. The film’s setting had us all hankering for an Indian meal though and so it was over to Sagar for a curry. All the food was divine…. Adam had an amazing veggie curry in a banana sauce…. and my vegetable Biryani (made with Rose Water, pistachios, coconut and almonds) was lush! And when we’d finished our meal, we were presented with a whole tray full of sweeties, as well as chocolate mint thins with the bill. AND our lovely waiter then made us up his special night-cap (and wouldn’t reveal the secret recipe!) all on the house. Great place.

As the weekend proper started, I decided on three breakfasts to set me up for the day. First breakfast was All-Bran with milk….second breakfast, fruity granola with Rachel’s Organic Vanilla Yoghurt….and third breakfast a lovely slice of granary toast with marmalade and butter. Yummy!

And having yummed this all up we walked down to Gila Timur, a shop on the way to the station, to meet Adam’s Dad for some browsing. From outside, it looks like any other independent furniture shop, but inside it is a treasure trove of gorgeous pieces from all over the world. Adam’s Dad had wanted us to see the Indonesian sculptures there which are absolutely stunning….. I also loved all the gorgeous furniture made from reclaimed boat timber which still has layers of chipped paint on it. Having gotten chatting to one of the owners, he told us about his pride and joy which resides in one of the rooms in the labyrinthine basement….. an enormous (we think at least 9 feet tall) and incredibly intricate wood carved sculpture of Hanuman, the Hindu deity who appears in the form of a monkey. The owner explained how it is common practice for such sculptures (that is, carvings not made for tourists, and of such immense size) to be imbued with a spirit, and we certainly felt a presence about the sculpture like nothing we had ever experienced.

After a jaunt around all the charity shops and a trip to Waitrose for dinner ingredients, we spied a chance in between rain showers to go out for a walk with the dogs around Ickleford Common and Gerry’s Hole. The light was gorgeous as the sun began to set over all the damp trees and grass, and the dogs enjoyed running for sticks (as well as a little swim in the river for Newton!).

Ickleford Common

Walking the dogs

We worked up quite the appetite after our stroll, so we were pleased to be heading over to see some friends and cook dinner for the six of us. I’d made my signature Chilli last time, so it was Adam’s turn to make his wonderful Carbonara. Everyone yummed this up, alongside wine and cider…..and we remained at the table to eat cola cupcakes made by Holly and to play my all time favourite board game: Cranium. We played boys versus girls, and having cheated terribly, the boys beat us by a hair. It was a brilliant game though, highlights including the boys having to roll a length of sculpting clay as long as Adam’s left foot (between them, and using only their left hands)…. Martin’s whistled rendition of Tomorrow from Annie….. and my expertly sculpted toilet.

Cola cupcake

Sunday brought a shocking amount of rain, and so we decided to stay another night to avoid traveling home in it….or from leaving the house at all really. We started the day with a naughty breakfast of Belgian waffles with strawberries, ice cream and maple syrup…. and then settled down to some rainy day activities such as completing the crossword, eating home made fudge and lounging about. I did manage to be a little productive though and wove a few pendants from beads in the shape of snow drops, inspired by our countryside walk the day before. Hopefully I’ll get these onto my Etsy Shop this week. For supper, it was roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings….. gosh it was lovely with a glass of red (and with a pudding of ice cream and chocolate Torte made by Adam’s Mum’s friend for her birthday!). We finished off a slobby day watching the classic no-brainer Van Helsing (hurrah for Hugh Jackman!) before falling asleep very full and contented.

Snow drops next to the river

This morning we lay in before another waffle breakfast (this time without the ice cream so very healthy) and then packed, ready to leave. After a short and tolerable train journey home, we popped to Waitrose for the week’s shop and returned with fresh coffee and Duchy Originals Hot Cross Buns…..which we devoured whilst completing the cross word.

What a wonderfully relaxing weekend!

Hope you enjoyed yours too,

Ems x

Planning for a rainy weekend……

We’re set for rain this weekend, so you’ll have to plan well and ensure you have indoor plans too! Here are some of my ideas for things to do in London and beyond……

Shopping

St David’s Day True Taste Market at the Southbank Centre

In celebration of St David’s Day, the usual food market behind the Royal Festival Hall will showcase Welsh produce including lamb, cheeses and chocolate. There will be lots of Welsh products to buy as well as cookery demos to watch from the likes of James Sommerin and Rhodri Edwards.

An exhibition

Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum

I love this world-renowned annual exhibition and have been going for years. Hosting the most remarkable images of nature, wildlife and the environment inside a specially built space within the museum, I adore the mixture of rarely seen wonders of the world, alongside comical and diverting images that could well have been taken on our door step. The photographs are selected from thousands of entries all over the world, and presented beautifully on backlit screens.

I would very much advise booking online in advance and going earlier in the morning as it does get very busy.

Until 11th March

Adults £9

To drink

Town House, 31 Beauchamp Place

Whilst you’re in Knightsbridge at the Natural History Museum, visit the elegant Town House Bar. Serving a variety of cocktails and Asian Yakatori skewers over three floors, this sophisticated venue is nestled within an ivy covered Georgian house on exclusive Beauchamp Place.

A recipe

On Saturday, I’ll be sharing Adam’s Healthy (ish) Spaghetti Carbonara recipe…. so get in the eggs and bacon.

A Film

You can still catch The Artist and The Descendents at lots of cinemas, both of which I suggest you don’t miss. We’ll be off to see the well-rated The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel though…..will let you know how it is! I can’t recommend Rampart I’m afraid though, as much as I thought it was going to be brilliant. Woody Harrelson is marvellous but I’m afraid I found the film rather dragged.

Out and about in London

The Big Egg Hunt

200 eggs created by leading artists, designers, architects and jewellers (including Polly Morgan, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Bruce Oldfield, Nicky Haslam and Mat Collishaw) have been hidden all over the capital. A fundraising event for Elephant Family and Action for Children challenges the public to try spot them all, in order to win The Diamond Jubilee Egg which is valued at over £100,000……the unique piece of jewellery has been specially crafted by Faberge, and is encrusted with 60 fine gems on an 18 carat gold egg.

At the end of the hunt, all of the eggs will be gathered together to be auctioned for charity. But I have my eye on the Le Collier Plume D’Or which has been created specifically for the Fabergé Big Egg Banquet charity auction and is one of a series of unique couture egg pendants, “created by Fabergé to re-imagine and pay homage to the artistry and ingenuity of the legendary, iconic jewelled Imperial Easter Eggs, the most famous of Fabergé works of art, and a vital part of the continuing legend.”

We’re hoping to enter the photography competition once we’ve been on our hunt….. there’s a chance to win a great Sony camera and to have your photo exhibited at Somerset House as part of World Photo London.

To help you on your hunt you can find zone maps here.

And to stand a chance of winning the big egg prize you need to get hunting soon….. all text entries must be in by 3rd April.

Good luck! And have a brilliant weekend!

Ems x