Something from the weekend: Mostly food

Despite still having lots to do as we settle into the house, we’ve been enjoying spending our weekends exploring our new locale….especially with the new added benefit of a car!

Adam finished work at lunch time on Friday as he had some time to take in lieu, so we drove to nearby Ilkley to walk the dogs down the river and scope out all that the town centre has to offer. We found lots of lovely shops, The Veggie cafe that we’re dying to try out, and our nearest Betty’s Tea Rooms which I hope to visit before long!

On Saturday we took an early morning walk on the gorgeous Otley Chevin, the foresty hill that overlooks the town. The dogs love it up there as there is lots to sniff and explore, and the views are just stunning on a gorgeous day like Saturday.

Lurcher at Otley Chevin

Cooper posing at the Chevin

After breakfast we drove to Kirkstall Abbey to meet my Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law and our little niece Clementine. There’s a monthly Deli Market there with dozens of wonderful food and drink stalls set up inside the beautiful ruins of the abbey. We did a circuit to see what we might like, then bought up lots of goodies….for our lunch we bought a yummy free range scotch egg and incredibly delicious pork and gammon pie from The Blue Pig (as well as some of their sausages for another day), plus some gruyere and rosemary straws. There was a huge amount of sweet stuff to choose from, and we came away with a Chai Spiced flapjack from Oat Cuisine (top prize for their punderful name!), a Vegan Columbian Coffee Tiffin from That Old Chestnut, fudge courtesy of Aunty Emily’s (another great name!), and our first ever Canadian Nanaimo bar from Fayre by Alley. We were also in need of marmalade, so we bought some amazing Orange and Cardamon Marmalade from Hummingbird Preserves. The abbey is well worth a visit in its own right, and I’m sure we’ll be back with our cameras…..and we’ll be no strangers to the Deli Market too I’d imagine!

Scoffing a scotch egg at Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market

Scoffing a scotch egg at Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market

We popped to Adam’s Brother’s for a cup of tea and niece cuddles, plus some fussing of their two gorgeous Staffies. Then we drove to nearby Arthington to look at a house for sale….we’re not strictly ready to move yet having only just arrived, but I’ve not stopped thinking about this place since Adam found it on Right Move and he eventually decided that the only way to shut me up was to take a look! I’m glad we did….it’s good practise for when we start viewing properly….but in reality it wasn’t quite the dream home I’d thought it was. We shall keep on looking though!

It being a month since we’ve moved here, we decided to celebrate with a meal out at a local vegetarian restaurant on Saturday night, then it was an early night for us after a busy day!

On Sunday we had our friends Craig and Shelley over for morning coffee….we’re delighted to be living so near to them now, and that we’ll get to see them more often. After a quick catch up we all walked to the Designer Craft Fair in the Otley Courthouse to peruse the pretty things, then made our way to the Farmers’ Market in the square. As usual there was lots to tempt us and we came away with full bags….Mornington House‘s scrumptious jams (strawberry, raspberry and damson), Butterscotch and Rocky Road slices from the amazing Yummy Yank, half a dozen huge free range duck eggs and a bun filled with delicious free range hog roast and stuffing from Happy Hogs to bring home for lunch.

Scrummy Rocky Road from The Yummy Yank

Scrummy Rocky Road from The Yummy Yank

After scoffing, Craig and Shelley headed home for some sort of sporting race or match or something, then shortly afterwards Adam’s Dad arrived as he’ll be staying with us this week. He and Adam’s Mum are also making the move up from Hitchin later this week (he’s meeting with builders and things whilst Liz sorts out the movers) and we drove over to their new place to have a little look around the nearby High Street in the afternoon.

I cooked up a roast leg of lamb with all the trimmings for supper, followed by a fruit crumble and custard. The perfect way to end a lovely weekend!

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Ems x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Something from the weekend…. with a much enjoyed extra hour!

Well that was a lush weekend. Well, Sunday at least! Sometimes a great Sunday can make up for a so-so Friday Saturday though….

Our weekend began with a trip to the cinema on Friday afternoon…..Adam got off work earlier especially as I just couldn’t wait any longer to go and see Skyfall. For those who don’t know, I’m a MASSIVE James Bond fan. I got into the films as a teenager, and spent entire school holidays watching them all back to back, and then a couple of years ago I got all the books for Christmas and became hooked on them. So it’s fair to say I was fit to burst with excitement to see the much-awaited new film, and owing to my enjoyment of the last two, my expectations were pretty high (not to mention the fact that all the reviews were saying how they’d pulled out all the stops!).

But alas. I probably couldn’t have been more disappointed. Whilst I enjoyed the pure entertainment value of the film, and even liked its nostalgia and naffness, the more I think about it, the more I feel let down. I know there was backlash from the amazing Casino Royale, because the die hard fans all missed the innuendo and tacky gadgets. But I really felt that the new films were going somewhere, and building up to something….and in fact were far more like the books than the other films. But it’s like they forgot all the progress of the last two, and merely went back to the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan cringe-worthy naffness. The whole thing looked so cheap, with locations we’ve seen too much of lately, as well as bits of London disguised as Shanghai etc. And without wishing to spoil anything, I think they’ve lost the two best things that ever happened to the franchise….one I can’t say without saying too much, but the other being David Arnold as composer. His scores have been so intelligent and filled with clever nods for us super-geeks, and although I usually love anything Thomas Newman does, his score was brash and immature and utterly cringey. I just don’t think that Sam Mendes was the right choice to direct a Bond film (despite my loving his other stuff), and the loss of some of the other regular team too have really left a dent. Anyway, I won’t go on about it….I’m sure it’s rather dull for anyone who is less into the films than me anyway, and I’ll just get myself more riled up!

The rest of the evening was rather more successful, as I cooked up a massive Broccoloni Cheese in our new huge Le Creuset dish. Adam’s Mum came over to help us eat it (with the dogs too, who polished it off!). Then it was an early night ahead of a very early start on Saturday….. I was hosting another stall at the Hitchin Riverside Craft and Farmers Market, and had to be up and out by half past seven! It was SOOOO cold, and despite the incredible amount of layers I put on, I was still freezing and losing feeling in my fingers whilst setting up! Still, it was lovely to have such a great stall right next to the river and overlooking the church…..and with some rather loud ducks and geese for company too!

It was lovely to see some of the stalls I’d encountered at my last stall there, as well as some familiar faces, and ever so nice to meet some new people (and chat to them to make the time go faster!). My neighbors to the left were the lovely Christine and Bridget, who make beautiful hand knitted and sewn gifts and homewares…. whilst to the right was the wonderful Jo from Breakheart Hill Farm, with a wonderful selection of their produce. We chatted to Jo for hours about the farm and their dogs, and were delighted to find we could order some of their gammon joints too! That’s Christmas sorted! We also indulged in some huge back bacon from a local farmer who rears his pigs in the woods, as well as some delicious cupcakes from the award winning Crumbly Wumbly.

Rather annoyingly, it kept dry and fine all day just until we started to pack up! There was a fierce down pour that caught me off guard and unfortunately got to some of my paintings too. I managed to salvage most of it, and just need to do a couple of repairs to my Pet Pawtraits (more on that later!), but it was still rather miserable walking home with all my stock in the wet (despite it only being two minutes away!). Thankfully, Adam’s Mum invited us round for a nice stew for supper, followed by home made apple crumble and custard, so after the warmth of her Aga and a hot bath back at home, I finally warmed up again and was fast asleep in bed by ten!

My early night didn’t stop me from sleeping in though, and making use of the extra hour from daylight savings simply to snooze! I think I must have had about eleven hours sleep in total, but I felt great for it…especially after yumming up a massive fried breakfast! That set us up nicely for a walk round town and the car boot sale in the market place, and we rewarded ourselves for venturing out with cream cakes for lunch!

After that we did a little DIY at the house, then went for a lovely walk in the woods with the dogs. I so love this time of year, with all the stunning golden leaves, and so being in the woods was just wonderful. We did a little shopping after that, then headed home for a hearty sausage casserole for supper before watching Black Adder on the sofa under blankets, whilst I did a little knitting. Pretty perfect Sunday actually!

How did you use your ‘extra hour’? Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….and a catch up of the last few weeks!

Hello! Did you miss me?! I’ve certainly missed blogging these last few weeks!

As you may know, a few weeks ago I moved out of London and up to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It’s been a real adventure, and dead busy…..moving your home and two small businesses is no mean feat I have found, and with a stall to prepare for and some freelance work, it’s been pretty chaotic! Add all the issues we had with the new house, and really I’ve had no time to sit down at my computer!

But I’m aching to get back to it, and have lots of posts lined up to share with you. In the mean time though, I thought I’d catch you up (as requested!) with what’s been going on since I left The Big Smoke…..

On Monday 17th September, I finished packing up our things and hopped in a moving van to leave London. I’d lived there for 12 years, and other than my home town of Stoke on Trent, it was the only place I’ve ever lived. I had the most amazing time there, but the countryside was calling, and so here I now am in Hitchin, which is in fact the boyf’s home town.

The move went pretty well actually, despite the huge amount of ‘stuff’ I own. We had two fabulous moving men, who made easy work of carrying all of our stuff into our new house, and even smiled whilst they did it. I’d been fairly organised, and so most of the boxes ended up in the right rooms, but we opted to spend the first couple of nights at Adam’s parents’ house around the corner, mainly because of the yummy hot meals on offer and because Adam would need to work from there for a few days and starts pretty early!

I spent most of the first week at the house cleaning and organising….unfortunately it was nowhere near ‘liveable’ as it had been empty for a little while and the previous tenants were clearly not so house proud! But with the help of plenty of Flash, Cif, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, I got the place pretty clean ready for us to move in properly, and so by the third evening we were excited to spend our first night at the house!

We soon found out that we were to share the place with a few house mates…..whilst reading in bed on the first night, something caught the corner of my eye, and in fact I thought it was a mouse! It was actually this rather large spider, whom Adam promptly caught under a glass and deposited outside! We’ve found a few others since (all massive), and the garden is full of the stunning stripey spiders who weave incredible webs over everything.

Needing to get a break from the house sorting, and work in Adam’s case, we’ve taken lots of lovely walks through the town and in the nearby countryside. Just a few minutes walk away are the amazing Priory grounds, where you find a photo opportunity every other step. I’m loving the exercise and fresh air, as well as meeting dog walkers and such (I am getting even more desperate to get one or two of our own as a result!).

By the second week, it was time to start getting back to some work for me, and I cleared just enough space within the boxes in my new studio to get some things done. I’d been commissioned to work on a fashion installation with the UKFT just before leaving London, and so in the run up to the set up last Friday I spent hours at my sewing machine making props and readying my styling kit. On the Thursday evening I thought I’d better give my finger nails some TLC after all the cleaning and working, so they got a nice coat of polish ready for my trip into London the next day.

The installation is at the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation in Westminster, but I took the train to Kings Cross (only half an hour!) and walked the short way to Bloomsbury to the UKFT offices. There, we loaded the van with all the contributions from their members (with me peeking in each box in excitement to see all the treasure!), and then headed to Westminster to set everything up. I had a grand day putting it all together (and will post a bit more about it all soon, but in the mean time there are some sneak peek photos below!), and by 5pm I was back on my way home, and caught the fast train to make it in record time!

The following day we were up bright and early to scoot round the corner to the Riverside Craft and Farmers Market. I’d booked my first ever non-London stall there, and was super excited (and a little nervous) to see how my stuff would be received by the locals! It was also my first outdoor stall, although I was provided with a nice gazebo which gave me stacks of space and allowed me to put all my stock out for the first time. I’d been busily making some new brooches and pendants with a local theme, as so many of my things have a London vibe and I wanted to fit in right away!

It was a grand day of selling, chatting, networking and drinking lots of tea from a flask. The stall is only a few minutes from home, which meant Adam could nip back to bring me blankets and hot water bottles! We had lots of visits too, from friends and friends of friends, and we were all packed up and home by half four too!

I’ve booked onto the next few markets, which are in Hitchin on the last Saturday of the month…..I’ll also be at the Hertford Corn Exchange on the 20th October, and in the market square in Hitchin on the 9th December for the Christmas Gala!

On the Sunday, we were lucky enough to be able to get onto one of the occasional local history walks. Hitchin’s history dates back to the 7th Century, and the town is full of remarkable stories and evidence of its past. The house we moved into is Victorian, and still has its servants bell pulls and cold room, but it is actually relatively young for Hitchin, as there are Georgian and even Elizabethan properties still standing here. The walk showed us some of the highlights, and opened our eyes to some of the treasures in Hitchin’s architecture. I can’t wait to learn more….and to go on the local bat and ghost walks soon!

Hitchin also boasts some very old independent businesses, so I have been discovering places like the wonderful Brookers (a proper old fashioned hardware shop), and Hawkins (a department store who actually employ a proper town crier!) as well as buying up lots from the flea markets, car boot sales, antiques market and charity shops. Whilst I’d love to keep all my treasures, lots of them will actually be polished up and listed on my Etsy shop, so look out for an update on that!

As part of our historical eduction, we’ve been exploring some of our local pubs, purely for research you understand. The Coopers Arms is notable for its incredible Tudor fireplace, as well as a room upstairs recently uncovered by the landlord, which had been hidden by a wardrobe for over 100 years! Our favourite so far though, also happens to be our nearest….. The Half Moon has won awards from CAMRA and serves amazing guest ales, local ciders and yummy food. They also have a pub dog, and lots of countryside walkers like to pop in, with lots of them bringing their dogs!

I was rather pleased that our arrival coincided with sloe picking time. We went out last week to find some locally and came back with almost two kilos, which are now in the freezer waiting to go into gin! I also want to go and harvest the last few brambles, elder berries and rosehips to make jams, wines and schnapps with!

Part of the joy of moving to Adam’s home town, is that we are so close to his parents’ dogs. Piper and Newton soon learned the way to our new house, and understood that we were going to see them more often…..and of course where the biscuit tin we got for them is kept! Newton has been loving playing in our garden with various tennis balls, footballs and shuttlecocks that have ended up there (as well as exploring the wilder parts!)….whilst Piper has been my little un-packing helper, getting excited with each box opened and every treasure unwrapped!

In fact, they seem quite at home here now on their visits, and we’ve had to keep an eye on Piper who wants so very much to spend all day on our lovely new sofas! We’ve had to barricade the living room door when she’s been here, although that didn’t stop her from finding the only made up bed to lie on last week! Having been missing for a few minutes, I searched the house for her, only to find she’d made her way to our bedroom (there are four, so I’m not sure if she inspected them all for a suitable bed!) and was snuggled up on my best sheets. You’ve got to admire her intelligence and determination though.

One thing I have managed to make time for is lots of cooking and baking. We’ve had some really yummy meals over the last few weeks, and had Adam’s parents over as our first guests to yum up a cottage pie, as well as Hannah over for a late lunch of goats cheese and red onion tarts. I’ve been going to the market for lovely fresh fruit and veg, and making up some delicious soups for hearty warm lunches. Adam had been fancying a kedgeree since I had one at the Wolsey for my birthday breakfast, so I made one for him last week with great success….I’ll share the recipe soon hopefully.

To add to the cooking excitement, I’ve been able to forage a few things from our garden as well as the sloes from a nearby obliging field. We have a wonderful and huge bay tree in the garden, which has provided us with fresh leaves for pie, soups, the kedgeree and my Christmas mince meat. We also have elder berries out there (can’t wait til next year for the flowers so we can make Champagne!), as well as brambles and medlars which I will make into jam.

In fact, we have enough room too that I can start growing some of our own veg soon, and Adam’s mum has been busy working the garden to smarten and pretty it up. I’ve spent a little while out there too, mainly digging up some of the wild cyclamen from around the trees to save it from ivy. I love their pretty little pink blades of petals, and was overjoyed to find so many growing right down our wooded garden….. I’ve replanted some in the flower beds (as well as lots of bulbs for spring), some in pots and some around the other trees.

This Friday was a frenzy of baking and readying for Christmas, as I made three Christmas Cakes, the Christmas Mince Meat and for the first time, a Christmas Pudding! The house still smells all Christmassy now, and so I’m very much in the mood already! I’m most excited that we now have space for a proper sized Christmas tree again and can’t wait to go to the market to pick one!

Despite being so excited to be in our new home out of London, we’ve been delighted to find how quick and easy it is to pop into London. The trains take as little as 20 minutes from Kings Cross, and we made it to a recent wedding in Richmond in less time than some people who live in London!

We were most impressed with our journey to the Union Chapel in Islington last night though, which took us under an hour from door to door. We’ve been there a couple of times before, last Christmas to see the Puppini Sisters with friends Claire and Matthew, and first to see Andy McKee with friends Matthew and Siobhan. We enjoyed the latter so much that we bought tickets to see the talented Mr McKee again last night, and had a most amazing time seeing him, the legendary Preston Reed and the phenomenal Jon Gomm.

As we start to get the place more tidy and presentable, I’m getting excited to welcome our friends here. We’ve set a date for our house warming party, which will also be a bit of a festive celebration. I’ve not been able to host my traditional Christmas party for a couple of years, because I’ve been so busy with December parties at work. So I am incredibly keen to get planning for Christmas and visits and just enjoying a gorgeous new home!

And that’s the scoop! As I mentioned, I’ve got lots of posts lined up to tell you more about our new home, and what is in fact a very new lifestyle for me! Do keep me up to date with the London goings on though….I do miss it still!

Ems xxx

Something from the weekend….the last in London

Well I’m surrounded by all my belongings packed in boxes towering over me….it’s finally here….I’m leaving London!

It’s been a lovely last week or so here, making the most of being so close to so many things…..but I can’t say I’ve totally enjoyed the packing part of leaving!

Yesterday we had a lovely day out at Old Spitalfields, where I was hosting a stall as part of the Designer Makers Market there. We really enjoyed manning the stall as usual, and I sold lots of my jewellery and other hand made things, as well as chatting to some very lovely people.

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We started with a bacon buttie from The Luxe, once we’d dutifully set everything up, and in fact spent a large part of the day gorging on other goodies such as frozen yoghurt and burgers! Still, it’s hard work all that chatting and selling!

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I’ve decided I definitely must carry on having stalls at the markets, as well as selling online….it’s just so great to get all the feedback and positive comments from people, and it makes me more confident in what I’m doing!

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It took us no time at all to pack up and carry the stall contents the short walk home, but we were pretty shattered non the less and only managed a little more packing before heading to bed at EIGHT THIRTY!!!! Still, I took a cup of tea with me, and some of the amazing cup cakes from Flavour Town at the market….it was a nice wind down, just reading for a while before falling asleep.

Bright and early this morning though, we were straight back to it and packing up the last few things ready for the move tomorrow. I hate the flat being in such disarray but it’s not long now until those poor removal men get here and take it all away….of course there’s the unpacking at the other end to think about, but at least there’s more space there!

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And so, I’m now just relaxing with a hot milky drink and a book, ready for another early night in readiness….tomorrow is going to be a looooong day!

Wish me luck!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…… The August Bank Holiday in Instagram

I bally love the weekend. Even more so a long weekend! Despite having lots to do with our impending move, we managed to have a very fun weekend in London as well as in our soon to be home town of Hitchin!

On Friday afternoon straight after work we caught the train into Hertfordshire to stay with Adam’s parents (and the dogs!) in Hitchin. After a yummy supper of fajitas, we watched the BBC Four documentary on Mark Knopfler. It’s an amazing programme and shows what a remarkably lovely and intelligent man he is, as well as an incredibly gifted songwriter.

It was early to bed though because we were keen to start early on Saturday and cram lots into our day! We set off earlyish into town, just a few minutes walk away, and to the monthly craft and farmers market which takes place around the gorgeous St Mary’s Church. I’m hoping to have a stall there myself when we move, so it was lovely to meet lots of the regular traders. I fell in love with the ‘The Knitting Ladies’ stall, which is full of hand knitted treasures, including the most gorgeous bears! The ladies are most proud of their celebrity knits….in one little basket resides Audrey Hepburn, Ziggy Stardust and a Clanger!

After a browse (and buying up some free range bacon, and home made fudge!) we took the minute’s walk to what will be our new home. Adam hadn’t seen it yet, as I viewed it by myself before we signed up, so he was super excited to see it for the first time and I couldn’t wait to go back. It’s a gorgeous property right in town….it’s actually Grade II Listed and belongs to a local historical trust. It’s full of beautiful period features, and there’s lots more space! I’m going to finally have a studio to work in, and there’s even a garden!

With all the extra space to fill, we set off to a local furniture warehouse afterwards to look for some pieces we’ll need. It’s a great place to look for bargainous things….it’s actually run by a charity that our friend Hannah works for, so buying their lovely second hand stuff helps them with their fundraising! We snapped up a wonderful little extending pine table with chairs for the kitchen…it’s the perfect cottagey looking table to fit in with the old house.

The thrifting didn’t end there though, as we popped into Letchworth and picked up some gorgeous dining chairs. As well as all the shops to look in, there was a sort of mini vintage car show going on in the pedestrianized High Street. I fell in love with a huge turquoise Chevrolet truck, and an amazing little camper trailer with a super cute kitchen at the back.

Next it was into Hitchin again for a snoop about, and to buy sausages for supper from the charming Allingham’s which is the wonderful butcher on the market square and has been there since the 1860s! We couldn’t resist some more furniture shopping though, and Adam fell in love with (and bought!) a stunning sewing machine and table. I also picked up a darling little camera….the Italian Comet S which takes 127mm film…can’t wait to get a roll and try it out!

After our busy day, we needed a serious re-fuelling and yummed up an awesome fry up! It was to the sofas after that though to slob away the evening in front of the telly….we watched the BBC Drama ‘Best of Men’ which I’d been wanting to see for a while. It’s about the first ever Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville, and the amazing work there of Dr Guttmann. We all really enjoyed the programme which featured Rob Brydon (one of my favourites from Gavin and Stacey)….it’s well worth watching for anyone interested in the games.

After a little Sunday lie in, we started the day with a nice long walk across Ickleford Common, past Gerry’s hole and over the railway to the Lavender and Sunflower farm. Everywhere looked very lush….. there was wild chicory flowering everywhere, and the fields of wheat just looked incredible. We saw lots of sloe berries getting almost ready to pick (we are planning on making a large batch of sloe gin this year again) as well as lots of rosehips that we plan to make something with too.

After that it was more furniture shopping, at the big shopping park in Stevenage. We tried out lots of sofas, but both chose the same as our favourite, so it was an easy decision and we left having ordered a gorgeous two seater and three seater in sanded and waxed leather, which is now being made for us in Italy….hopefully it’ll be delivered not too long after we move in!

That sorted, we drove to Benington Lordship for the annual chilli festival. The house and grounds are just stunning (I hope to go back in the new year to see the famous snowdrops!), so it was lovely to wander round all the stalls selling chilli-based products and chilli plants of every variety. We bought a big box of Stratta‘s award winning flavoured vinegars (including the lavender, elderflower, raspberry and blackberry)…..and yummy preserves from Jules and Sharpie (including their hot apple and sage jelly, the green chilli and lime jelly and the hot marmalade)…. I’m really looking forward to serving them up and cooking with them.

It was off home then for a quick fish supper, before packing and heading back to London. We wanted to cram as much into Monday too, so we had a big breakfast at our local, then made our way to the British Museum. We have membership there and we promised ourselves that we would see every room there this year….we’ve not done terribly well really but we have at least seen all the special exhibitions.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the Shakespeare exhibition there ever since it was announced, so we made our way there first. It’s a wonderful exhibition, which comprehensively walks you through all the historical impacts and influences on the playwright, and on ‘his London’. It’s the perfect show for this year of festivities I think….I learned lots about the history of London and England, and the beginnings of Great Britain and our National identity.

It’s quite a big exhibition (well worth a visit and the £14 entry, although you can become a member and get in free!) so we needed a sit down afterwards…. There is now an additional cafe in the Great Court, run by Benugo, and we had a perfect double espresso and flat white there whilst watching the window cleaners high above us on the glass ceiling.

We couldn’t miss the chance to go and see the Olympic and Paralympic medals too whilst they are being shown there, so we popped in to see them and the exhibition about their design and the history of the medals. Right next door is the stunning clocks and timepieces room, so we investigated that next…..I fell in love with the huge gold ship clock which was used to call guests to dinner (it plays music via an internal organ, ‘sails’ across the table, and fires its cannons!). It was lovely to hear all the amazing clocks chime on the hour too, and there is even a charming cuckoo clock!

It was a lovely day outside when we emerged from the museum, so we sat in nearby Russell Square to eat the fruit we’d packed, before walking back to the bus stop. Once home I started on our supper of roasted butternut squash stuffed with ratatouille and topped with cheese, and we’d eaten it in good time to settle in front of the telly to watch our friends appear on Only Connect! It was ace to see them and their admirable performance….well done guys!

We were too shattered after our busy weekend to do anything other than sit, so we slobbed out watching The Incredibles on Blu-ray (which looks amazing!) before hitting the hay…… what an awesome long weekend!

Hope you enjoyed yours!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…… Some friends from the market

I had my first stall at Old Spitalfields on Saturday, as part of the Designers Makers Market. It was lovely to see some stalls I recognised from past markets and to meet some new people too. There were lots of things I wanted, as usual, so here’s a little round up of my favourites!…..

Being a Potteries lass, I couldn’t pass by a stall filled with china without stopping for a look! And Material Pleasures‘ collections are actually made in my home town….and not much china is these days! Designed by Julie Spurgeon and skillfully made in English fine bone china in the heart of The Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, Material Pleasures represents a lot of what I love about British hand-made homeware. Julie’s designs are both elegantly classical and whimsically modern….so very different from anything I’ve seen. Her sugar sweet pastel tones really caught my eye, along with her darling little china sugar mice (I was lucky enough to get one as a gift from Adam!). I’d love a full set (or three), and knowing that everything is so well made, thoughtfully designed and ethically sourced, I’d say there’s a pretty good excuse to indulge!

The Mister Peebles stall actually caught Adam’s eye first….. Full of charming and original illustrations bearing witty puns, we both fell for the little animals dressed up in sweaters and pajamas. There were lots of delightful prints for sale, as well as stacks of gorgeous greeting cards (which we couldn’t leave without!)…and it’s all terribly reasonably priced too!

And continuing the animal theme (it wasn’t intentional I promise!) Yas-Ming Ceramics is a collaboration between Yasmin Dilekkaya and Ming Wai Sun. Together they design these wonderful ceramics, all so clever and funny….. each mould is made by them and the heads and bums are carefully attached by hand so each piece is slightly different. I adore the small plates with the ruffed animals standing over them…how cute are their over-sized heads on their little human bodies?!

I’m back at the Designers Makers Market at Old Spitalfields on Saturday 15th September, along with lots of the lovely designers I met there too!

Ems x

Ideas for the weekend….. In Sunny, Sunny London

The sun is here!!! It’s sunny! And warm! And the rain has gone! Hurrah!!!

Enjoy it while you can!…..

Wonder Hill Craft Market

I’m back at the Miller in London Bridge on Saturday, hosting a stall at the Wonder Hill Market….. I’m looking forward to showing off my new Jubilee pieces and some other new treasures I’ve made. It’s free to get in, and just around the corner from the wonderful Borough Market.

Wonder Hill Market

Eurovision at The Water Poet

And of course, don’t let let the weekend pass without a little bit of Eurovision….. The Water Poet in Shoreditch is holding a free Eurovision Screening with themed cocktails and dressing up to boot!

The Great London Swim

Now I’m not suggesting you get invovlved in this first hand, but there will be plenty of fun to be had at Victoria Dock on Saturday watching the Great London Swim.  The challenge is to swim one mile as fast as you can along the specially created course in the docks. It’s £38 if you would like to sign up for a go (it’s open to all ages and abilities) but otherwise, pile down to the docks to watch everyone floundering about!

Soho Flea Market

Safely back to shopping, head to Soho on Sunday for the City Showcase Flea Market, which will be showcasing artisans, artists, fashion designers, jewellery designers, filmmakers and musicians. Between 12pm and 8pm, the length and breadth of Dean Street will be closed to traffic and specifically-curated ‘creative market stalls’ will exhibit and sell directly to the public, all in support of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust. The unique event will also feature an outdoor stage with new and emerging music and comedy acts.

Art Car Boot Sale

And for more shopping still, head to Brick Lane Yard on Sunday for the Art Car Boot Fair. Aiming for a super friendly and laid back atmosphere, the sale will see well known artists selling their wares in a car boot style. There is also  ‘Handbag Disco’ which is a rather exciting sort of pass the parcel crossed with musical statues….. Bags include designer handbags and celebrity bags donated by the likes of Alesha Dixon, Daisy Lowe and Sophie Dahl. It’s £3 to get in. Get your bartering hat on!

 Big Nature Day

Also on Sunday, the Natural History Museum is hosting its annual Big Nature Day with lots of free family activities in the Wildlife Garden and Darwin Centre. Expect worm charming, bee box making as well as puppet shows and talks.

Big Nature Day at the Natural History Museum

So get outside and enjoy the sun, and all the fun stuff going on in London!

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

Been busy crafting…. sorry for neglecting you blog!

So I feel I’ve been neglecting my blog a little of late….. there are loads of things I want to post about but haven’t had chance, and I’ve only just managed to post my ‘Something From The Weekend’ for this week, which I usually do on a Monday. I’ve not even started this week’s ‘Wednesday Wants’.

Still, I’m not really being lazy. I’ve been so busy making things for my Folksy shop and craft fairs…. I have another coming up this Saturday so I spent yesterday putting together some new pieces…..

Pretty pastel flower rings

Silver glitter star rings

Victorian key and smei precious stones on a long vintage chain

Glass cherries and lucky eye on vintage gold chain

Glass eye bead bracelets

Wooden religious charm, glass bead and stone fragment silver necklace

Porcelain doll's leg and wooden chess piece on chunky gold necklace

Vintage watch parts with moving pieces on delicate silver bracelet

Porcelain doll's arm, blue stone and Victorian key on vintage silver necklace

Victorian key, wooden dice and polished stone on chunky silver vintage bracelet

Gold watch parts charm bracelet

Wooden religious charm, turquoise bead and silver feather silver necklace

Silver chain with polished stone, silver key and vintage watch face

(More on the Facebook page here…)

I’m really looking forward to the market on Saturday…. it would be great if some of you can come along! Here are the details….. hope to see you there!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…… My first stall at a craft fair!

Wow! That was tiring! Friday feels like weeks ago already! I had the most brilliant weekend, mainly because of my first ever stall at a craft fair……

Friday evening was mainly spent readying for the F.U.S.S Craft Market, for which I’d booked a table to sell some of my stuff. I decided I wanted to take a good range of everything I’ve made, and managed to finish off my Narnia jam jar scene just in time. I have been wanting to try out some new things too, but the week just ran away with me…. but I did manage to make a prototype for my map jewellery on Friday evening, whilst chilling out ready for the busy day ahead!

Crafting tiny coat hangers for my Narnia jam jar

Hand Made 'Tibet' vintage map necklace, by me

It was an early start on Saturday morning…. our journey down to Hither Green (in South East London, where I lived for many years) was somewhat hampered by a complete lack of tubes (despite our being within 5 minutes walk of four different lines!), and DLR. Even the bus we wanted to take to London Bridge was on diversion, so we had to struggle there with our bags and boxes on foot. Still, we made it to the little village hall in good time and I managed to choose a nice table right at the front.

I’d been planning out my stall layout on the dining table, so it was mainly a case of un-packing all my stock and the various bits and bobs from the house I’d brought along to help display them…… lots of my old books became stands for my many vintage button rings…. my smaller glass cloche hosted a little scene of my beaded flower jewellery….. our low candelabra was used to hang my Day of the Dead jewellery….. and one of my cake stands became a place to riffle through the little stacking rings and vintage button brooches I’d made. All in all I was quite pleased with my eclectic collection of treasures, and I was soon complimented on my presentation by kind stall holders and the first few shoppers to arrive!

My stall at the F.U.S.S Craft Market

I found out about the market from an old school friend who lives in the area and volunteers for the F.U.S.S group. F.U.S.S are a community group who work hard hosting fairs and dances to raise money to improve the area. The craft market was held to raise funds for their planting project, and the group managed to get some wonderful press coverage to boost attendance. And there were surely plenty of people that came! We met so many lovely local people, and a few from further afield (thanks for coming south of the river Kate and Jason!), and so a huge part of our enjoyment of the day was chatting to people. I got some great feedback on my stuff too, and gave out lots of business cards as well as selling eighteen items! I was so pleased that people like my things, and it was a real boost to see peoples’ reactions (and of course to make some money for my efforts too!).

There were lots of brilliant stalls there, with more hand made jewellery, prints, vintage treasures, clothing and pottery……my  favourite would have to be the wonderful Matin Lapin stall though, which was run by my friend Vixie and co-hosted by the lovely Alex with her Animal Cafe cards. Vixie’s stall was the one I wanted the most things from, and because I’m a very lucky girl, Adam treated me to one of her creations….. a hot air balloon brooch, in brilliant bright colours… I am now wearing it on a chain as a pendant but I love that I can pin it to a blouse too.

Hot Air Balloon brooch (worn as pendant), by Matin Lapin

'it aint ALL bad...' hand drawn and painted greeting card by Alex at Animal Cafe

The volunteers from F.U.S.S also ran a marvelous refreshments stall, with tea, yummy cakes and delicious home made soups for sale. The lovely ladies even came around taking our orders, so we enjoyed plenty of cups of tea to keep us going, as well as pea and mint soup, ginger cake and fruit cake. And the gluttony didn’t stop there, because my friend Emma (Never Eat Wobbly Jelly) had made some amazing flapjacks which we devoured too!

We left on such a high, having had so many positive comments and lovely chats! I have already received a commission from someone I met at the market as well as some more feedback on Twitter, and I’ve been invited to another fair too! Adam had a brilliant time as well, so it was nice to celebrate the high with him and know that he’ll be up for helping me at future fairs. And I definitely want to do more!

We celebrated that evening with a bottle of fizz (we are experimenting with sweet Prosecco as the drier kind doesn’t agree with Adam) and a Chinese take out, both of which I feel we deserved after our hard day’s work! We snuggled up on the sofa to watch Avatar (which looks ace on Blu-ray!) but soon after that had finished we were beat and crawled off to bed to fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows!

We’d planned a trip to the supermarket and the cinema on the Sunday, but seeing the lovely blue sky outside we decided we wanted to have an adventure out and about. So we marched off to Brick Lane after our lunch of take away left overs, to discover some new markets to treasure hunt at. We wandered about for ages and found some brilliant stalls…. I came home with stacks of old sheet music, some slightly creepy porcelain dolls, a bulk lot of match boxes and loads of old books…. including another copy of the awesome Pears Encyclopaedia which I use to paint onto. I can’t believe my luck!

Treasures found at the Sunday markets

For supper, we feasted on smoked haddock with creamy mashed potato and buttered asparagus, before settling down to watch another episode of The Wire (starting to get into it now!). We spent some time talking through more ideas for things I can make, and I started on some little drawings, and then we were ready for a well deserved early night!

Very successful weekend all in all!

How was yours?

Ems x