Thursday, 24 February 2011

Place to go: Juliets, Tunbridge Wells

Juliets is one of those rare places that combines everything beautiful, scrumptious, wholesome, nostalgic and wonderful, one of those places that you want to take everyone you know too, but at the same time want to keep for yourself, like a great dream that you can keep hold of and revisit when you need to.

When I first peered through Juliet's window I felt like I was looking into a vintage/antique shop, one in particular springs to mind that I've visited a few times on East London's Columbia Road; where everthing sits perfectly in a completely imperfect, staggered, hickledy-pickledy kind-of way. And it isn't at all chintzy, or cupcake-y, just splendid really.

Big, rustic-looking Victoria Sponge cakes sit invitingly atop glass cake-stands, with enough cream and jam to make your mouth water. Big bowls filled with perfectly-dressed, seasonal salads - overflow onto prettily-painted old-fashioned crockery, and tea is served properly in a tea-pot, with a tea-cup and saucer, just the way I (and my great nanny Lottie used to) like it.

There's a lovely breakfast menu too, which all looks comforting, filling and healthy - all the things you need to set you up for the day - even better if you can give yourself enough time to really savour it and soak up the friendly atmosphere whilst reading your way through your favourite book or magazine.

Mmmmmm - delightful...go and see for yourself - and if the orange blossom and apricot cake is on the counter that day, treat yourself to a good slice!

NEW GALLERY: The Singing Soul

It is rare that I walk through my local town and see something that seems to fit with me. And here, today I stumbled across a new gallery in the little old town of Cranbrook in Kent, near to where I live at the moment, in a mansion (a school) in the middle of nowhere (next to a huge magical forest). Not only are there some very interesting, story-like paintings, beautiful theatrical ceramics and other hand-crafted creations - but the place will be running some great courses throughout the year in art, craft and writing. From Dress Making to 'Getting Published' - if you're live in the South Kent area - it is well worth a look! Private View tomorrow night (Friday 26th February).

It's Marie Prett, who I met today (she is lovely, and the lady that I want to be one day) - who is the gallery curator and shop owner.

You can check out her wares here:

Janome Sewing Machine In Need!

I have an old-ish Janome sewing machine that my once- housemate, lovely Japanese friend Miri left for me - and I am struggling to find the right needles to fit into it. I am also really badly in need of some sewing lessons. I am struggling to find any local classes or kind people to teach me - so please if you know of anyone in the Kent/ South London area who teaches sewing/ may have some expert sewing-machine knowledge (or any knowledge at all) then please leave me a comment - I would be most grateful!

DELICIOUS: Rhubarb Cake

If like me, you love rhubarb - then this is the recipe for you. Sweet enough and cake-y enough to treat yourself, yet still with those tangy undertones of rhubarb to give just enough flavour of the wonderful winter fruit. It's really quite simple to prepare and make, and even better after a day of chilling - in my mind, best served cold - the softness of the cake mixture tastes slightly custard-y, and goes down very well with a nice cup of tea. My boyfriend loves rhubarb, and liked it with a dollop of rhubarb yoghurt on the side. It looks beautiful with the icing sugar scattered over its bumpy, crumbly top - it's lovely! If you've got a couple of hours to spare, go grab the ingredients and get baking-up some rhubarb-y goodness!

Follow of Delicious Magazine on Twitter too....

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Nostalgia: Amelia's Magazine

Once upon a time, I used to write for Amelia's Magazine. I was the Music Editor there for some time, and was lucky enough to make friends for life, experienced a plethora or interesting/ quirky/ whacky events which led me down all sorts of paths, none of which I regret, and all of which I remember.

The first gig that I went to with Amelia, on my first day working with her, in her cosy little house off Brick Lane - was to see a small Australian band called Operator Please . Amelia lent me her old bike, which didn't have any breaks - and I hadn't ridden on London roads before. Thankfully the gig was just around the corner, only one slightly nerve-racking experience whilst sat in the middle of quite a fast road with buses whizzing past.

Anyway, that experience set me up for what was about to come - a fast-paced, culture fix that fed my imagination, and still feeds me today. I met countless arty-types who were brave and skillful, and even if they weren't that skilled they were at least brave. My own confidence grew enormously - still at university, I was already interviewing the likes of Erdem, and it certainly helped me on my way.

Now, I still marvel at Amelia's creations - I learnt to work with a woman who followed her heart every inch of the way, and although at times intimidating, entirely honest and open to ideas and moving forward, getting on, breaking out, and not being afraid to speak up.

Take a look at Amelia's Blog here:

Explore: Knit 'n' Sew/ Rock 'n' Roll

Interesting little nougats of today:

This place looks really quite wonderful - lots of courses, ways to expand and explore all of those ideas big and small, busting to break out of your head... I love the idea of sitting amongst other women knattering and knitting. It really does fill me with joy!

I once celebrated a birthday at the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes and had such a wonderful evening. From the twist-and-shout to come-on-eileen we danced and laughed and just had the most wonderful time. So go!

Baking: Whoopie Pies by Claire Ptak

Claire Ptak, founder of Violet Cakes has recently opened a shop on Wilton Way In Hackney.

Once upon a time, I lived on Broadway Market. At that time, my friend and I would sit by the river and eat Violet Cakes whilst the sun shone on our faces, and even if it rained, we would still enjoy the velvety-wonder.

I moved away from Hackney a couple of years ago, but still long for those cakes, and so was over-the-moon when I discovered Ptak's 'The Whoopie Pie Book' on Amazon. Inside, are all manner of delights - and all in the prettily-perfect shape of buttercream, icing, marshmallow or ice-cream filled cookie-cake-pies. They really are little wonders to create, and even better to eat, share and enjoy. And - although the mixtures can be pretty time consuming at first, once you've got the knack of the style of preparing the mixtures, they are only in the over for a mere 10 minutes, and then once cooled ready to serve with the filling. You really can go all out with the muffin cases and the the design/ colours - and be as overstated or understated as you like.

If you need a pick-me-up on a dull day, or an idea for sweet-treats for a Spring/ Summer picnic - try Claire Ptak's Whoopie Pies!

Events: Stand Up Sit Down Party

I stumbled across Great Little Place on Twitter whilst looking for people to follow. I am relatively new to the Twitter game, and enjoy finding more and more creative minds across the network. Great Little Place find places to go, see and do that are slightly off of the beaten track, and may only be known by a few groups of people. This is why I like the sound of it. Anyway, they are putting on an event in Old Street tomorrow night: GLP Stand Up Sit Down Party and I may just go along and check it out. Follow Great Little Place on Twitter and find more little gems to visit in the big smoke and beyond!

Book Review: Women Who Run With The Wolves

I'm reading this book at the moment, and I am amazed by Clarissa Pinkola Estes's bravery and insight into the female! I feel that, as with all women and also men, we all seek that feeling of freedom, that sense that we are being wholly true to ourselves and not just doing what is expected of us. It is something that we all battle with, I think -and an issue that few writers actually take and deal with in the way that Pinkola does.

Using fairy tales and folklore, Pinkola studies the characters and then describes in details the psychological relation that they have to women, and to life. From how to imagine ourselves to be, to knowing deep down who we really are but being afraid to show it, Pinkola encourages women to act as they see fit, making sure that we know our boundaries, to keep ourselves safe and protected from addiction and abuse, but letting ourselves run into positive experiences, develop positive, honest open and free relationships that do not taint our oh-so-precious wings.

Book Review: Sun Dog - Monique Roffey

What a wonderful account of a boy with red hair.

This book sucked me straight in with it's beautiful descriptions, it's wholeness and it's imagination. I bought the book after reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle -which again, with exquisite descriptions took me on an imaginary journey which I didn't want to leave. August's upbringing on a commune left him scarred with memories of sexual liberation, explicit scenes of nudity and his mother's promiscuity, and all told as a memory and through the eyes of August as a child - the reader can really feel how August felt and seeks to understand him further. This, along with August's rare, yet magical condition - makes for a story that oozes with colourful, sumptuous appeal -and keeps you yearning for more.

I can still picture the jars of pickles and fruits that were stacked on the shelves of the deli that he worked in - one looked like 'the sun', and I can still feel and see the pale legs of the girl that he falls in love with, and the pale-blue veins at the back of her knees. If you are in need of some creative stimulation, and are happy to let yourself flow with a make-believe story about a sensitive boy with a wild condition, then read this book!

Oh and you will find out what a Sun Dog is, if you don't know already.