Wednesday Wants…. all about London on Etsy

So….I’m leaving London! In a little over a month me and the boyf will be moving from our Zone 1 flat, and out to lovely Hitchin in Hertfordshire. I’m super excited about it, but I have started to think about the things I’ll miss about London when we move. I’ve also started to hanker after a few of the souveniry type things around at the moment (thanks in part to the Olympics and the Jubilee), which I’d like to take along with me to our new rather-more-rural home!…..

I think this skirt is super cute! And useful too….it’s pattered with the London Underground map, so you can’t get lost in London whilst you’re wearing it! It’s made by Roobys and is available on Etsy for just £18 along with a whole load more ‘novelty skirt for grown ups’!

I already have the gorgeous Ward Lock & Co’s London Illustrated Guide, but this vintage London journal would be a great notebook for anything at all. It’s made from an old map of London, and recovered back, front and inside, with blank note pages inside. It’s only £4.59 from Etsy which is a bargain I think for a unique journal.

And for just £4 you can get this bumper load of London printed ribbons, by Bigfish on Etsy. I love the little guards print, and I could certainly see me using the Made in Britain print.

I’ve been collecting up a few old postcards for some projects, both in Paris and in London. I’ve not quite decided what I want to do with them yet, but this bumper load might inspire me! They’re just £12.12 for all 50, from Bursts of Creativity on Etsy.

I adore this Cath Kidston London print with all its iconic landmarks. I’d love to make curtains in my new studio with it, or else make some pretty cushions. You can buy a fat quarter of it from Boqinana on Etsy for just £3.93.

I’m sure I’ll be able to find some treasures as a token from my 12 years here in London, and hopefully I’ll make up some new products inspired by the City too!

Ems x

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The Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival

Adam and I are currently up in Leeds visiting family, and as our trip coincided with the famous Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival, we couldn’t resist going to see it ourselves.

There have been scarecrow based events going on in Kettlewell for many years, and people come from all over to see their annual festival. The little idyllic village sees its community working hard together to produce fun new ideas each year, all in aid of local good causes.

There is a different theme each year to inspire the scarecrow creators and to give clues to all the visitors taking part in the scarecrow trail. This year was unsurprisingly an Olympic themed festival, with the names of lots of the participating countries as answers to the trail quiz.

There were all sorts of wonderful ideas though, including a scarecrow scene inspired by the Willow Pattern, Postman Pat, a Maypole with scarecrow dancers and even a Boris Johnson scarecrow stuck on a zip wire! I was so delighted to see all the different ideas and all the effort that clearly goes in. The village itself is just so perfect for such an event….it’s so very quiet and pretty, so you can wander about at leisure in a gorgeous setting.

The village lays on a campsite and car parks to accommodate the extra visitors, and open up spaces to sell refreshments. We stopped off in one of the little cutesy tea rooms, for Yorkshire tea, and scones with cream and jam. We needed it too, with so many scarecrows to see, we were there for a good few hours finding them all and taking lots of photos.

Having found as many as we could though, we got back in the car and made our way to nearby Threshfield for a pub lunch. We’d been to the Old Hall Inn before when camping near Grassington and loved their menu full of local produce. Excited by the rare chance to eat chicken (it’s not nearly often enough Free Range and we don’t have it much at home as Adam is intolerant to it) I ordered the Southern Fried Chicken Burger, whilst Adam and his Mum chose the trio of venison (in a mini pie, sausages and with red currant jus), Vera went for the Lamb Tagine, and Ali the rather epic burger. Everything was gorgeous, and super filling! We practically rolled out of the pub, and only just managed not to fall asleep in the car!

Near home though, at Calverley, we spotted another bunch of scarecrows too! We all had such a wonderful day…. I took lots of photos which I’ll be sure to share once I’ve uploaded them at home…..until then though, here are my instagram snaps from the day…..

Ems x

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London 2012 Stamp

I love a stamp. Especially a self inking stamp. There’s something so satisfying about stamping something. It makes me feel important and official.

I think this dates back to my childhood, when I set up my own Post Office at my Nanna’s house during the school holidays, using a cardboard box with a window cut into it. I’d make my own envelopes and postage stamps, and then pretend to stamp them ready to be posted. I can’t vouch for whether they would ever get delivered, but my Nanna never made a formal complaint.

I found this beauty a few weeks ago at Paperchase, when my friend Michelle from the States was visiting, and it seemed acceptable for me to go souvenir shopping (despite having lived in London for over 10 years). I had absolutely NO need for it, but sometimes that’s half the joy in buying something, eh? AND it only costs £3. Three pounds! I’d have been crazy not to have bought it, and surely would have regretted it every day since, and probably for the rest of my life.

And I’m happy to say that it’s actually getting loads of use…. during the Jubilee, when I was selling my little corgi necklaces and Jubilee charm bracelets all over the world, I loved stamping their packaging with my special stamp. And now the Olympics is here, I’m sending all my orders out with the stamp on again. I think it’s nice when you receive something from far away that it looks a bit special and you can tell where it came from. Plus, our postage stamps in the UK tend to be a little dull when compared to Japan and New Zealand and places.

You can still buy them on the website…I’m not sure if they still have them in the shops. You should get one. They also have these lovely globe stamps, which are just £3 too. I’m going to save my sweet money and get one.

There’s a bit of a stamp theme going on at Paperchase in general actually. I also bought these cute little food pots at the same time as the stamp. They have lovely colourful stamp designs on them…one each of London, Paris, New York and Rome. They are dead handy, and store nicely inside each other like nesting dolls. They are a bargain too at just £7!

Again, I can’t think of a real use for them, but I’m sure I’d find something ace to do with these little stamp design wallets. They have that cool twirly string closure that I love, and they are only £1.50 for two. Hard to resist!

Wednesday Wants….. Still banging on about the Union Jack

London is still filled with bunting and more Union Jacks than I’ve ever seen in my life…..it seems all the decor put up for the Jubilee was a bargain really, as it’s been left up for the games too. Double whammy! And because red and blue are my current favourites, I’m still very much into all things Union Jack….. I posted a while ago about lots of Union Jack *things*, but here are my picks of Union Jack wearables…..

I wouldn’t be without my French Sole flats….they are pretty and stylish, but so easy to wear and super comfy. These Union Jack patterned ballet pumps though would make an excellent addition to the collection. They are leather and come in the Henrietta shape which has a nice low vamp (showing just a little toe cleavage). The flag also appears at the heel, so you’ll be patriotic from every angle. They are £130 though, so it’ll be worth waiting to see if they come up in the sale!


Similarly pie in the sky at £249.95 is this Barbour jacket….. I first saw it at the british pop up shop in Selfridges, and I’ve wanted it ever since. Barbour have teamed up with Swarovski Elements to bring a little patriotic sparkle to an iconic jacket. As well as the Union Jack lining, the chest pocket is emblazoned with a red, white and blue crystal flag. Considering all the rain we’ve been having this summer, I guess you could call it a sound investment though!
I also spied these amazing Union Jack gloves by Dents at the Selfridges pop-up, and was smitten right away. Stitched together in red, white and blue leather panels, the gloves are super supple and also boast a silk lining. They come gift boxed too, so a they make a wonderful gift to oneself as a treat for surviving the summer! They are £99.00.
I’m a sucker for a silk scarf as you may well already know, and this one is so very me. It has a wonderful vintage feel with the retro portrait of Her Majesty, and I love the swirling crest pattern over the flag itself. It’s £120.00 from Liberty, although thankfully for the sake of my wallet, it’s out of stock just now.
Ems x

Ideas for the weekend…..

A whole weekend…..all mine! I have absolutely no set plans for this weekend, and I am so looking forward to it! I’ll be sure to get in plenty of relaxing and slobbing about (it’s a busy old summer, so I need it!) but as usual, I know I’ll be tempted by an adventure or two! And here are the most likely distractions……

Christian Louboutin 20 Years Design Museum Retrospective (photo from Marian Kihogo)

Now I know I’ve harped on about this already, but this weekend is your last chance to catch this…. Christian Louboutin at the Design Museum celebrates a career which has pushed the boundaries of high fashion shoe design. The exhibition reveals some of the artistry and theatricality of the iconic designer’s work, offering the visitor a unique exploration of his processes, right from the initial drawing to production. Adult admission is £10.

East End Film Festival

The East End Film Festival is one of the UK’s largest film festivals and each year hosts a multi-platform festival in London, with a rich and diverse programme of international premieres, industry masterclasses, free pop-up screenings and family activities. Their mission is to ‘discover, support, and exhibit pioneering work by global and local independent filmmakers, and to introduce viewers to innovative and challenging cinematic experiences’. The festival ends this Sunday and includes lots of free screenings…. I have my eye on F.W. Murnau’s ‘A Symphony of Horror’ which is to be shown at Spitalifelds Market at 9pm on Saturday, and Rob Curry and Anthony Fletcher’s The Tempest which is showing at Genesis at 6:30 on Friday, followed by a Q&A.

Mind the Map: Inspiring art, design and cartography

Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography is showing at the London Transport Museum until 28th October. The largest of its kind, the exhibition explores geographical, diagrammatic and decorative transport maps, as well as the influence of the iconic London Tube map on cartography, art and the public imagination (notably on lots of the fabulous treasures in their shop!). The displays on show include previously unseen historic material and new artworks by artists including Simon Patterson, Stephen Walter, Susan Stockwell, Jeremy Wood, Claire Brewster, and Agnes Poitevin-Navarre. Adult admission is £13.50.

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration is now showing at Buckingham Palace as part of its summer opening. The exhibition shows some of the many ways in which diamonds have been used by British monarchs over the last 200 years, and includes an exceptional display of a number of The Queen’s personal jewels. Adult tickets are £18.00 and the exhibition is open until 7th October.

Picasso Prints

The British Museum has recently acquired a complete set of Picasso’s Vollard Suite, 100 etchings produced by Picasso between 1930 and 1937, and is now exhibiting them as one of their free displays. Reflecting Picasso’s developing interest in classical sculpture, the prints were created when Picasso was romantically involved with his young muse and model, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Most exciting for me though, there is a real focus on classical linearity, with scenes featuring the Minotaur, one of my favourite classical stories. You can see the collection until 2nd September, but this Saturday from 2pm Bartosz Glowacki, from the Royal Academy of Music, is to play French accordion pieces from Picasso’s Paris (such as Edith Piaf, Felix Mayol, Lucienne Boyer, Marie Louise-Damien, Marie Dubas and Maurice Chevalier) to celebrate the collection.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

This year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is focusing on community gardening, highlighting how gardening can bring communities together and improve communal spaces. There is a new ‘Low Cost/High Impact gardens’ show, a floral marquee, plant village, and the Hampton Court Grapevine Theatre which will feature celebrities and live TV. There are also over 600 exhibitors to see over the 34 acres of show ground which is open until the end of this weekend.

I hope you all get in your fair share of slobbing about and adventuring too!

Ems x

Ideas for the weekend……. so many Festivals!

It’s summer (apparently), and what means summer more than festivals? But it’s not only the usual music festivals we have to look forward to….. London is jam packed with celebrations, fetes, fairs and all sorts of festivals this summer! Here’s my pick of things to do over this weekend and the next few weeks…..

Celebrate the City starts today and runs for four days, celebrating all the City has to offer…… stunning architecture, rich history and heritage, must-see exhibitions, as well as a host of special events and entertainment. Most of the activities on offer are free and include, tours, walks, talks, and open days for some of the most impressive venues in the Square Mile.

It all kicks off this evening with a grand opening and launch event  at Guildhall Yard, with students of the famous Guildhall School of Music & Drama playing Tchaikovsky’s dramatic 1812 Overture in the shadow of the 600 year-old Guildhall. You can view all the events by date or type on the website here, but here are a few of my favourites…..

Thursday

Reach for the sky

“A melting pot of ambitious modern structures and old buildings, this walk is a must for architecture fans.”

- Starts outside St Lawrence Jewry (front entrance) at 7:30pm. Free.


Friday

Keats in the City walk

“Keats was known as the ‘Cockney poet’ and this 2.5 hour walk explores parts of London where he lived and studied. Starting at Keats birthplace in Moorgate, it weaves through the quiet streets to Cheapside, to Apothecaries’ Hall and along the river to London Bridge, crossing the Thames to finish by the Keats memorial statue in Guys Hospital. Enjoy a selection of readings from Keats poetry and letters along the way.”

- Starts at Moorgate tube station (exit Moorgate east side by NatWest Bank, opposite cafe Nero) at 11am. Free, but contact Keats House to book on 020 7332 3868.

All Hallows by the Tower tour

“Take a tour of this historic church All Hallows based just by the Tower of London – reputedly the oldest in the City – which examines its heritage.”

- Starts at 2pm. Free.

The public face of Art

“Around almost every street corner in the City you’ll find a piece of public sculpture – this tour leads you here and explains how the enhance the Square Mile.”

- Starts at Bank Junction at 5pm, ends at Tower Bridge. Free, but to book email lindaantonioni@gmail.com

Amore in the Churchyard

“Come and enjoy this exciting and fresh opera group in the romantic ruins of one of Sir Christopher Wren’s churches.”

- St Dunstan-in-the-East, St Dunstan’s Hill EC3, 6pm. Free, but to secure a place email info@nostromomanagement.com

Sundowner at Tower Bridge

“Where better to watch the sun setting than from the world-famous Tower Bridge with a glass or two of champagne in your hand?”

- Tower Bridge, 6:30pm to 9pm. Free to enter, champagne cash bar, no booking required.


Saturday

Bank of England Tours

“Take the opportunity to see inside the parts of the Bank not generally accessible to the public on these guided tours which leave every 30 minutes.”

- Bank of England Museum, 9.30am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Free.

Guildhall Market

“Tickle your tastebuds and browse Livery stalls at this one-off market in the historic Guildhall Yard.”

- Guildhall Yard, Gresham Street EC2, 10am-5pm. Free.

Bishopsgate Institute Open Day

“Head to this revamped cultural institution Bishopsgate Institute by Liverpool Street Station for a day of free talks, discussions, tours, music and courses (some activities in partnership with Spitalfields Music Festival).”

- 230 Bishopsgate EC2M 4QH, 10am-5pm. Free.

Sunday

Building Opening: Guildhall

“This majestic 600 year-old Guildhall throws open its doors – peek into the Great Hall which will be set up for the next Sheriffs election; admire the Livery Hall; enjoy the Guildhall Art Gallery; marvel at the Old Library; check out the Print Room; hide in the Crypts and gasp at theRoman Amphitheatre. Come and see the Magna Carta (on display in the Amphitheatre) and other City of London treasures including Shakespeare’s Folio dotted around the complex. A treasure trail like no other!

- Guildhall, Gresham Street EC2 10am-5pm. Free.

Building Opening: Goldmsiths’ Livery Hall

“An opportunity to see inside the beautiful Goldsmiths’ livery hall with its magnificent rooms filled with rare and historic treasures.”

- Goldsmiths’ Hall, Foster Lane EC2V 6BN 10am-5pm. Free.

What the Dickens!

“Follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens through the alleys of the City: his ‘magic lantern’ of inspiration.”

- Starts at Guildhall Yard, Gresham Street EC2, 10am and 1.20pm. Free, but to book email lindaantonioni@gmail.com stating day, walk title, time and number of attendees. Maximum two bookings per adult.

Walk: The blooming City

“There are around 200 gardens and plazas dotted around the Square Mile – discover these oases of calm.”

- Starts at Guildhall Yard, off Gresham Street EC2, 12noon and 3pm. Free, but to book email lindaantonioni@gmail.com stating day, walk title, time and number of attendees. Maximum two bookings per adult.

The City of London Festival starts this Sunday and lasts until the 27th July. The Festival seeks “to entertain and inspire the City’s workers, residents and visitors with special events and world-class artists in beautiful surroundings, whilst providing unique opportunities for targeted business dialogue, community involvement, learning and participation. Each summer the City of London Festival brings the City’s unique buildings and outdoor spaces to life with an extensive artistic programme of music, visual arts, film, walks and talks, much of it free to the public. Inaugurated in 1962 to revitalise the cultural life of the City, it has established itself as one of the UK’s leading arts events.”

Events range from large-scale orchestral concerts in St Paul’s Cathedral to intimate chamber recitals in the City’s beautiful but hidden livery halls, and from innovative aerial acrobatics to jazz bands in the Guildhall Yard. There are also exclusive walks and talks…… you can search the list of events by date and type here.

The London 2012 Festival opens today and will see over 12,000 events and performances across the UK in celebration of the Games, with incredible cultural events and top artists across the world. I’m not even going to attempt to cover this, as it’s huge, but you can see the festival brochure and guide here to learn more about the arts, literature, comedy, dance, fashion, film, food, heritage and music events coming up.

Some of 
East London’s most iconic venues open their doors to host a fabulous range of classical and contemporary music, family activities, and special tours for the Spitalfields Music Summer Festival. Bringing together world class artists and locals alike, the festival draws inspiration from the creative hub of East London, with the aim of bringing people together, changing perspectives and engaging body, emotions and intellect. Tickets vary in price, but you can find out how to book here and there’s a map of the events here….

I love this idea….. with the rain set to continue all Summer, the Old Vic Tunnels is the perfect place to enjoy a Summer Holiday Camp! There’s going to be indoor crazy golf, badminton & basketball courts, a ping-pong table, face painting and a bouncy castle! There’s also a Pimm’s summer meadow to relax in, as well as a circus tent with popcorn, ice cream and a Punch and Judy show! Oh, and the wonderful Tootsie Rollers will be playing around the campfire.

- Thursday 21st June to  Sunday 24th June,  Thursday to Saturday 7pm til 1am and Sunday 2pm til 9pm. Tickets are £15 in advance and £17.50 on the door.

Fabulous West End performances, including Lion King, Top Hat, Matilda and the Wizard of Oz will be shown in Trafalgar Square this weekend as part of West End Live. Featuring showcase performances from every  West End musical, live bands and a wonderful array of interactive exhibits from many of London’s top museums, galleries and cultural institutions, this free event is bound to be super popular!

Well, that should be enough to keep us all occupied for a while! Enjoy!

Ems x

Plans for the weekend…..

After my little trip to Paris, and walking for miles and miles adventuring, the last thing on my mind at this moment is more of the same! Still, I know that after a good sleep, I’ll be ready for action again and wanting to cram as many things as possible into the weekend!

This Saturday sees my ‘official’ birthday celebration (same as the Queen!), with a big picnic in my secret garden with a lovely bunch of friends…. so that will just leave Sunday to fill up with fun. Here are some of the things I’m shortlisting…..

Treasure

Treasure is London’s ‘visionary’ jewellery show, and will be showcasing some of the most beautiful, exciting and vibrant contemporary jewellery in the UK this weekend. Held at the stunning Somerset House, this year’s show will be the largest event of this year’s Jewellery Week, and offers a unique opportunity to meet designers, view their collections and buy some of the very best jewellery design the UK and Europe has to offer. It’s open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Tickets are from £10 and available here.

Anifandis Dimitrios

David Nash at Kew: A Natural Gallery

UK sculptor David Nash is exhibiting his work at Kew Gardens until March 2012, showcasing many of his sculptures, installations, drawings and film in place throughout the Gardens, glasshouses and exhibition spaces. In addition, Nash is also working at Kew to create new pieces using trees from the Gardens that have come to the end of their natural life, adding these pieces to the exhibition in October. It’s the perfect setting to thoughtfully present his work, which spans 40 years and shows his deep understanding of the properties of trees. Tickets are £14.50 for adults, whilst children under 17 get in free!

David Nash, Black Sphere at Kew Gardens

Spitalfields Music Summer Festival

Some of 
East London’s most iconic venues open their doors to host a fabulous range of classical and contemporary music, family activities, and special tours. Bringing together world class artists and locals alike, the festival draws inspiration from the creative hub of East London, with the aim of bringing people together, changing perspectives and engaging body, emotions and intellect. Tickets vary in price, but you can find out how to book here and there’s a map of the events here….

Spitalfields Music Summer Festival

The Shoreditch Vintage Fair

This Saturday 16th, The Shoreditch Vintage Fair is back and tempting us with 40 stalls of mens and ladies vintage fashion. There will also be a vintage tea room, and beauty parlour hosted by Lipstick and Curls. Entry is £2 on the door.

Shoreditch Vintage Fair

The Monocle Country Fayre

This event is a uniquely global take on the English tradition, complete with market stalls, face painting, a mini zoo, Allpress coffee and more!…… There will be games of tombola, guess the button and pirate hunting, as well as prizes donated by Lufthansa, Krug and Ralph Lauren! The marvelous Trio Manouche are playing at 12pm too. It’s free to get in, but donations are welcome in aid of The Committee to Protect Journalists. It’s open from 11.00 – 17.00 on Saturday and Sunday. 

 The Trooping of the Colour

Although The Queen was born on 21 April, it has long been the tradition to celebrate her ‘official’ birthday publicly in the summer, in order to benefit from the better weather! Trooping the Colour is carried out by fully trained and operational troops from the Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry) on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, watched by members of the Royal Family, invited guests and members of the public. Tickets are allocated to public via a ballot and of course are all now gone, but you can still turn up at the Mall to see events from 11am, culminating in a fly past at 1pm.

Trooping the Colour

Enjoy your weekend!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Beer, Steak and Car Boots

It being Adam’s birthday weekend, we made our merry way up to his home town of Hitchin to spend a few days with his family and the fresh, country air. As usual, we managed to cram plenty in as well as some quality slobbing!

We arrived on Friday evening to Adam’s parents’ house, and enjoyed a yummy dinner of spring vegetables with pasta and cheese sauce, before settling in front of the telly to watch A Shot In The Dark. I do love the silly slapstick humour of the Detective Clouseau films! We also sampled a bottle of liqueur given to us my Adam’s Mum….. It’s called Bajtra and is made in Malta. It’s absolutely delicious, with the prickly pair, honey and herbs it’s made from blending beautifully. I’m looking forward to trying it with some Champagne as a sort of Bellini.

On Saturday morning we made our way down the lane into the beautiful market town, where we had a snoop about the shops and market. I spotted for only the second time in all my visits there the wonderful Town Crier who still shouts out news in his melodic cry, wearing all his finery. In the market square were a bunch of friendly chaps from the local Sikh community, commemorating the life and teachings of their 5th Guru, Guru Arjun Dev Ji. We were given delicious veggie samosas and drinks as we chatted, which I thought was just so lovely.

Snooping about in Hitchin

Getting ready for Her Maj’s visit to Hitchin tomorrow!

It being World Gin Day, we stopped off in the impressive Blue Otter Wine Shop next to the churchyard, and chatted with the knowledgeable owner before purchasing our first bottle of The Botanist Gin, which is distilled on Islay. I can’t wait to try it…. It is made from 22 wild native botanicals and produced in the unique ‘Ugly Betty’!

The Botanist Gin from Blue Otter Wines

We then had a mooch about the wonderful market, eyeing up the amazing cakes by Fentons Cakes, buying coffee beans (and sampling a free cup of coffee too) at the Wakelins of Hitchin stall, and purchasing some supplies from the brilliant Beadbitz stall.

Next it was over the road to The British Schools Museum Beer Festival, which takes place in the playground of the school which Adam actually went to as a very small boy. We were rather disappointed that they didn’t have any ciders this year, especially as Adam doesn’t drink beer, but I certainly enjoyed trying some that were new to me! The Pegasus and the 92 Squadron were both splendid!

The British Schools Museum

92 Squadron

Whilst we were sat, a charming lady from the museum came over to chat to us, and I learned that we can actually have a tour about the place on certain days (really want to do that), and they have regular events too (I wish I was closer so that we could see the London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra there on the 29th). The lady also chatted to Adam about his time there at the school and he promised to get in touch to share some more of his memories to help with their information gathering. We purchased a fundraising quiz from her before drinking up and making our way to meet friends.

I adore the Half Moon, which is very close to the house and has won all kinds of awards. They always have great ales and ciders on offer, so we opted to meet with friends there to catch up over some birthday drinks. I did some more beer sampling and tried the Adnams Diamond as well as the Dixons Jubilee (well, tis the season) whilst Adam sampled some ciders (favouring the FTJ from nearby Baldock). We gave the rather cryptic quiz a good go, although even between us all, we only managed about a third of the questions!

At the Half Moon

After quickly popping home to freshen up, it was back out again to The Plume at Wymondley for Adam’s birthday meal. It’s such a charming pub, especially at the moment covered with festive bunting. And better still, they have an adorable resident dog, a Bullmastiff called Madge. She got lots of attention from us until it was time for our meal…. Adam and his Dad both had the mixed grill whilst his Mum and I both had the rump steak. The portions were all more than generous, and the steaks cooked wonderfully.

Madge

The Mixed Grill at The Plume

We opted to wait a good hour before attempting pudding, so headed home for tea and cream cakes whilst we watched Star Trek on tv.

Sunday morning was set aside for a trip to the Upper Caldicote car boot sale. Adam drove us the pretty 20 minute journey through the countryside, and with the sun finally showing its face, it was warm enough to wander about the field full of stalls without our jackets. It’s a great boot sale, with lots of stalls….. I found a couple in particular that had lots of amazing treasures…. I bought up a whole load of old keys, a leather bound copy of Alice in Wonderland, a gorgeous gilt frame, and 14 vintage match boxes with all kinds of pretty designs. Adam also snapped up a stunning Claret carafe…. He’s been eyeing them up for a while!

Car Boot at Upper Caldicote

Back at home we grabbed a quick lunch, sitting in the sunny garden, before heading down to Hitchin Market for a look around another car boot sale! It was getting on by this time so lots of the stall holders were starting to pack away, but I did manage to pick up some lovely old cigarette cards with Royal Family photos on them from the 30s.

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Hitchin all bunting’d up ready for the Queen’s visit this week

Then it was off to the common to walk the dogs. I love the land at Oughton Head which is just covered in pretty trees and wild flowers. Adam’s Mun had spotted some wild orchids there earlier in the week, so we tramped through the mud to see them. They are absolutely incredible, in glorious shades of purple, and so remarkably delicate.

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On Oughton Head Common

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Lady’s slipper on the common

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Wild orchids on the common

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Piper down the lane (and ready for a biscuit after the walk!)

We had an early supper of meatballs with pasta and tomato sauce before packing up our treasures and making our way back to London…… Tired and wanting to be prepared for another busy week ahead, we read in bed before a nice early night!

Hope you had a lovely one!

Ems x

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The house in bloom

Things to see and do this weekend….. It’s still all happening in London

So everyone’s winding down after all the fun of the long Jubilee Weekend, but who wants to let the party spirit die?! There’s still plenty going on and a really fun vibe in London right now with all the extra visitors, bunting, and even sometimes a touch of sunshine! Here is my round up of suitably British activities for this weekend…..

Open Garden Squares Weekend

Originally set up as a way for the public to access private squares in central London, this event now includes a wonderful range of private institutional, commercial and communal gardens all over London. This is a lovely way to explore some of the little-known and hidden green spaces across the capital, with secret orchards, community horticultural projects and historical gardens on show. Tickets are £9 for the weekend and available here, as well as a list of all the participating gardens.

Hogarth’s House and Garden

London Green Fair

And on with the green theme….. The London Green Fair is London’s largest, free ‘green’ festival and takes place this weekend in Regent’s Park, from midday until 8.30pm on Saturday and from midday until 7.30pm on Sunday. The aim is to reflect the green aspirations and achievements of London, with diverse and free content. This year’s 20th anniversary line up includes contemporary live music, high-profile speakers, debates and forums, children’s activities, boutique market stalls and organic bars and food stalls. There will also be original events such as The London Permaculture area, an electric ‘Bikefest’ and an outdoor performance from an 80 piece dutch wind symphonic orchestra. Plus of course, you get to take in the beautiful surroundings of the park!

The Big Roof Top Tea and Golf Party

As part of their Big British Bang event, Selfridges has once again opened its legendary roof to launch The Big Rooftop Tea & Golf Party, transforming the space into a destination for a round of a crazy golf like no other and the highest afternoon tea on Oxford Street. The Daylesford Café will be open daily, from 12 noon until 10pm, serving up a specially designed menu of organic dishes in the pretty picnic setting. It’s not possible to book, so tables are allocated on a first come, first served basis. You can book from next week though for a ticket to play crazy golf on the roof….. The Bonpas and Parr crazy golf course is designed by British food architects, Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, with each of the 9 cake-based holes representing one of London’s most famous landmarks.

The Big Roof Top Tea and Golf Party at Selfridges

The British Biscuit Festival

Not enough sweet treats for you yet?…… This weekend the Brunswick Centre is hosting The British Biscuit Festival, the UK’s first festival totally dedicated to the nation’s much loved treat! For three days The Brunswick will be presenting biscuit building workshops, tea dances, The Terrific Biscuit Tin Tournament, The Tea and Biscuit Social, a farmers market and stalls, all as an ode to the modest but delicious British Biscuit!

The Tea and Biscuit Social

Free Range

This isn’t about food….. Free Range is an Old Truman Brewery special project set up by Tamsin O’Hanlon to provide new creative graduates with an amazing opportunity to showcase their work on an international level. Since it started in 2001, Free Range has become the number one platform for up and coming creatives to showcase their work to both the public and the design industry, and proudly presents the work of thousands of fashion designers, artists, graphic designers, photographers and interior designers. Taking place across the iconic Truman Brewery venue, there will be more than 60 exhibitions and it’s free to get in!

Free Range Art and Design Show

A Tuscan Spring in London

And back to food….. You may remember me waxing lyrical about my visit to The Backdoor Kitchen earlier in the year….. these clever chappies have set up a pop-up restaurant in their own home, to showcase top-notch Italian cuisine at an incredibly affordable price. It’s a unique experience and a brilliant way to try out new things, and this weekend they are hosting a ‘lost Tuscan cuisine’ themed supperclub, serving specially designed dishes such as Crema di Ribollita con Calamari all’olio alle erbe, Tonno Briaco con Melanzane Marinate and one of the chef’s creative desserts. You can read more about the concept and their menus on their blog, and make bookings at just £25 per person here.

Back Door Kitchen

Have a good one!

 

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee long weekend

So these long weekends eh? I feel like I need another weekend to get over it! Still, I am terribly grateful to Her Majesty for giving us the extra day off…. but I wish Mr Evans had thought to organise some better weather. Anyway, with a whole four days of weekending, I managed plenty of outings, relaxing and housey stuff……

The weekend’s proceedings started on Friday, as I enjoyed a lovely long walk down the river to meet Adam at Waterloo….. we were going to see the Enlightenment Cafe in the Old Vic Tunnels. After a lovely sit in Jubilee Gardens, lots of pic snapping and a yummy picnic, we got ourselves some cocktails at Cubana before heading to the venue.

In the depths of the tunnels underneath Waterloo Station, we found Last Theatre’s new production, The Enlightenment Cafe. Designed as “a Victorian world for aesthetes, geeks, bon-viveurs and inquiring minds”, the event featured a Victorian Psychiatric Clinic, The Institute of Victorian Dating Etiquette, Gin Distillation and a Speed Debating Tournament, amongst many other original diversions. I loved the mixture of the theatrical and scientific, especially where we got a chance to chat to some of the ‘visiting minds’….. most notably Kathryn Harkup (Chemist, Vampirologist and Poison Scientist) who enlightened us in the truths about zombies, vampires, how to despatch them, and how to poison your enemies.

Face paint Union Flag at the Enlightenment Cafe

Puzzling at the Enlightenment Cafe

We’d planed to catch up with some housey things for the most part on Saturday, knowing that we’re away next weekend and then I’m off to Paris too. So we just took a wander down to the supermarket for some provisions, but on our way spotted how jolly St Katherine Docks looked all ready for the River Pageant. Nearly all the boats there were decked out in pretty, colourful bunting, and the effect of the criss-crossing pennants was just wonderful. We also found a pop-up food market there, where we sampled and purchased rather more fudge and cake than we possibly should have!

Back at home, I spent the afternoon doing the cross word, painting my nails (specially for the Jubilee weekend with red, white and blue bunting!), pottering about the flat, and spending a good few hours making a yummy cottage pie for dinner. It was well worth all the time and effort as usual and we feasted on a pretty large portion each before winding down in front of True Blood and then hitting the hay.

Boats and Bunting at St Katherine Docks for the Jubilee Pageant

Pop-up food market at St Katherine Docks

The Dickens Inn complete with bunting, Union Flags, and beautifully British flower boxes

Rather Regal Moet display at Waitrose

My Birthday pressie, all boxed up with hundreds of stamps arrived!

Nails polished for the occasion

I spent the first half of Sunday trying to busy myself whilst waiting to go out and down to the river….. It was nowhere near nice enough weather for me to want to go and stand down there all day to get a front row view, so I beavered about all morning, feverishly tidying and cleaning as if the Queen were actually coming over for tea. I was so nervously excited that we finally gave up waiting just after three so that we could take the two minute walk down to the Tower of London, where the official end to the Pageant was to be. Of course, as we rounded the corner, we could see thousands of people backed up onto the bridge, but we did manage to make it down to the moat of the Tower to get a decent view of the river and see the little rowing boats come along. By the time the bigger boats were arriving, it had started to rain, and it was through bleary eyes and steamed up specs that I saw Her Majesty pass in the stunning Spirit of Chartwell. I was thoroughly drenched by the time I got home, so it was a pot of tea and into the PJs!

My dear friend Michelle had also arrived from the USA, so she came over for the first of many catch-ups after the pageant, and Adam made us a naughty feast of pizza, garlic bread and chips to yum up as we chatted the evening away!

View from the Tower of London down to the River Thames for the Jubilee River Pageant

Waving to Her Majesty, wearing one of my vintage British stamp rings

Monday was party time, as the lovely Claire and Matthew hosted a Jubilee bash at their gorgeous new home. There was jelly, cake, crisps, bubbly, and THE QUEEN (actually a little waving model), so we filled ourselves silly with party food and had a jolly good catch up with lots of the other guests. On our way out East to the party, we got a good glimpse of the Olympic Park, so Michelle and I plotted to visit one of the viewing places at some point during her stay.

We left in time to get back home and out again to the lighting of the Jubilee Beacon at the Tower of London. It wasn’t easy to find where it was going to be, but we eventually found a small cluster of people on Tower Bridge ready to see it. We seemed to wait ages, and then out of nowhere it was lit right in front of us…. I can’t deny it was a little smaller and lower than I’d envisaged, but it was a momentous occasion non the less!

And whilst on the bridge, we decided to take a walk along, to see the new lighting and take some pics, before heading homeward to bed.

The Queen waves as she oversees the Jubilee cupcakes

Party food (I can’t pretend this was the only plate I filled)

Siobhan wields her chocolate finger/ party ring sword, trying her best to look mean

The Jubilee Beacon at the Tower of London

Tower Bridge lit up all special like

Lights on the River Thames

Big lights on Tower Bridge

By Tuesday, I was flagging big time, so I opted to forego the rush to the Mall for the carriage procession and fly past, and watch it instead on TV. We spent most of the day lazing about, although we did pop out to the cinema to see Prometheus….. It was plenty entertaining but full of plot-holes, so I fear the big Alien fans will be disappointed!

We made a lovely supper of asian fish parcels with rice (recipe to follow soon), and then slobbed away the late evening in front of the TV before an early night to set us up for the three day week.

I do hope you all had a wonderful Jubilee weekend too!

Ems x