Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Bridge Hotel: Handover

Well, that's it - Bridge Hotel finished, tools down, job done - all done at 9pm Saturday evening (this was taken Sunday morning).

Looking back at my original plans and ideas for ingredients have I used any?

Yes: marzipan, red icing, mint thin wafers (doors), candy cigarette (flagpole).

Did I encounter any problems?

Yes, recommended sizes were a problem, so ignored those :)
I also decided to do the side wall without rendering - just to see what it would look like, which meant I wasted half a packet of icing and had to go out on Saturday to find some. Fortunately the cake decorating shop in Tynemouth had some in.

Will I build another one?

Never say never. The possibilites are endless, doing an entire map of Newcastle PUBS would be a great follow-up to this.
I was proud to be a part of cakebook & EAT! I've never done this kind of thing before, and felt that I could do it, and wanted to prove to myself that I could, and I did.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Building work on The Bridge Hotel...

Cakes out of the freezer and defrosted, let the cake building commence!!!!!

Oh hang on, let's just have a cup of tea first, we are builders aren't we :)

Bridge Hotel builders on site...

As you can see we're layering the cake with buttercream and shaping it as we go. To the untrained eye it looks like a scruffy victoria sandwich, but to a trained building, this is progress!!!

We decided to build the roof components separately, because it seemed a bit unsteady when we tried to sit it on top and work from there. If we need to we'll use wooden skewers to hold it to the rest of the cake.

Today's team didn't get on site until 11am, might have been due to a footy game last night? Or maybe that they wouldn't start until they'd had a cuppa tea and bacon sarnie.

(The man in the picture is waiting for the pub to open)

It was rendered fairly quickly & easily (including the roof), and then the brickies got to work....After the side (nr car park) wall and back (incl beer garden) they stopped for lunch & had to go to the builders yard for more bricks...I'm hoping they get them before the brickyard closes tonight.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Bridge Hotel has WINDOWS!!!!

We experimented with sugar & water, boiled up and left on greasproof to harden - this created glass-like shapes, however cutting it was difficult, and after a few days in the air the nice 'clear' look of the 'glass' went opaque.

Instead we decided to cut pieces of black icing and pipe-in the white frames.

I chose the Bridge Hotel specifically because it didn't look like it had many window to do.
When we visited the site we noticed all of the werrd and wonderful windows on the side facing the High Level Bridge. These in the pic above are all the different ones on this side.

Loved piping them - I felt like a pro :)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

33mile bike ride - Northern Rock Cyclone 2010

Today I rode the Northern Rock Cyclone! All 33 miles of it.  And I survived.

The weather was fine, dry if a little cloudy.  Not too hot, not too cold - just right.
I'd planned my ride outfit the night before, usual padded shorts & '3-qtr baggies,' purple-sleeved top and my charity t-shirt from RNLI.

I'd done my registration on Friday night, and recieved my 'tag' a wristband with timer/chip, so all I needed to do on Saturday was turn up.

Last night I'd been doing some last minute practice: practising removing my wheel, putting it back on, and I even had a go at dealing with a puncture, although I still planned to take my emergency £10.

I met my colleague (& pacesetter), Jamie Stogden shortly before 9.30am, we made a quick loo stop and got through the start line smoothly; we set of 9.30am and set off at a pretty quick pace, overtaking some families and slow people.

We also passed small kids on diddy bikes, people on tandems and parents pulling children in those trailer things they put on bikes.

After about 6miles, we stopped for a brief 'glug' of our water and I blew my nose and some local villagey people had made flapjacks & gave out cups of water to riders.  Heading away from them we passed fellow work colleague Nuala.

Our 33mile route was signposted with green arrows, and we left the blue (66) and black (104) arrow routes after about 10 miles, ahead of us, no one, and behind us, no one, and we had a little go at doing non-handed, Jamie was rubbish.

At the 17mile mark we celebrated, half-way round and heading back home...the ride was steady all the way, hilly in parts, but nothing too strenuous.

For the really hilly hills, I had a quiet word with my thighs, encouraging them to work hard, and promised them a twix finger at the timing station, and they did me proud.

We rode on and on, Jamie's squeaky brake disk provided a regular squeak which I found myself pedalling in time to.  Jamie wasn't happy, but felt much better when we overtook some girl riding a bike that squeaked like a wheelbarrow!

Along the way, the state of the road varied, some roads were smooth and fast, others were rough as hell and I made a mental note of the village name, and whether I'd be writing to complain, or compliment.

We had some fast downhills, and I took advantage of these by shouting "whoooooooooooooo" and on one occasion I unhooked my shoes from the holderthings on the pedals and stuck them out in excitement.  During these displays I sensed Jamie making a mental note, not to ride with me again.

We reached our timing station at 22miles and took a well earned 5minute stop for a quick bite, a drink & toilet stop and headed off again to do our final 12 miles back to Kingston Park.  The other rides (66 and 104) joined us on this road, so we found ourselves getting overtaken by some speedy 66milers on nippy bikes with drop-handles.

We kept up the steady 12mph ride, uphill, downhill and and on and on, soon after the 25mile mark my legs decided to hurt, my thighs in particular.  I knew they'd complain, I'd only trained to 25miles, and the last 8 miles really really hurt.  Jamie kept my spirits up and we finished the ride after 2hr 51minutes of riding.

See the ride here on endomondo

I clocked in, complained about my legs, got off my bike and huddled up, after a few minutes, legs aching I collected my official time slip and goody bag.

Although I didn't feel it at the time, I know I've done myself proud...
  • Rode an average speed of 12mph
  • Finished in 2hr 51mins, the fastest I'd ever ridden
  • Placed 125 out of 600 riders (for the 33mile ride)
  • Raised £444 for my chosen charity, Royal National Lifeboat Institute, I'd only set myself a target of £150!!

A great day, a great ride, and a great cycling buddy :)

Riding again next year? No, I'm not even thinking about next year!!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Bridge Hotel - Cake Build - Cake baking

Excuses first:

I've been slacking recently weekends in training for Northern Rock Cyclone, plus keeping my allotment relatively weed-free whilst sowing & planting, and then also creating a carnival float for Whit Bank Holiday weekend for family in North Yorkshire.

Back on track
In my shame I spent 4-evenings last week baking and freezing the sponge cakes needed for the build and I've been jotting down ways to make the windows, drainpipes, flagpole and the doors.  I've had my engineer/draughtsman (aka Mr Lisa) drawing up the plans, based on the recommended sizes, and then working out from photos what scale we need to do the windows/doors etc (he's good with a calculator and ruler), however he's noticed a slight problem with the sizes...

The recommended sizes for our build is 100mm x 250mm and the height suggestion is 500mm, 5 times the width which doesn't seem right.  After a few scratchy head moments and a panicky, lets check the mesaurements/plans again, we decided to see what the advice is on ning.

Fortunately we're allowed to employ Mr Artisitc Licence...Hurrah! He's been a fabulous help in making the build slightly more flexible in size, a little bit shorter in height & maybe a tad wider.  We're now looking at a 50% increase in width and length, but not in height.

 I'll sleep well now.

Monday, 7 June 2010

I love Betty's

Betty's in Northallerton is one of those places that oozes snobbery and poshness, I remember asking my mum to take me there for my 8th or 10th birthday.  I remember it vividly, I got a cheese omelette a strawberry milkshake and a Betty's banana boat.  I don't know how much it cost, but I'm sure my mum spent a small fortune in there.

Whenever I go to visit Northallerton I always pop in to see what delights they've got behind the counter.

Last time they had these little fellas in, I'm sure I could make something like this, but don't they look great.  They look like they're having a chat.

They remind me of the aliens in ToyStory (when they're waiting for The Claw)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

First ever carnival float

This year marked the first year in my history that I've planned, designed and starred in my own carnival float at the annual Brompton Carnival (2010), along with my niece and nephew.

It was conceived about 6 weeks before the actual carnival, coming up with an idea that would:
  1. Be quick and easy to put together
  2. Would require few people on the trailer
  3. Would be unique (never been done before)
How could we do this?
Christmas.  We'd cover the trailer with Christmas decorations, last years Christmas cards, tinsel, paperchains, empty boxes wrapped up, homemade decorations (from salt-dough) and anything else Chrismassy we could find, we'd play Christmas music too.  And our theme/slogan Christmas gets earlier every year

Jack (14 YO nephew) would be Father Christmas, Emily (9 YO niece) would be visiting Father Christmas (dressed in her bestest Christmas frock).  The trailer would be turned into a grotto, and me, I'd stand at the side of the trailer, as a snowman.

I made my outfit from scratch: a white duvet cover fashioned into 2 snowballs, basically making 2 skirts with hoops to hold the fabric out.  The top skirt was elasticated at the top and bottom, whereas the bottom skirt was loose (so I could walk.  The head was a little more difficult, and the rounded shape was created with a hanging-basket liner (new), a carrot-nose created with a squeaky dog-toy on elastic (also new), and funky-foam mouth, and eyes.  The eyes had stretched tights across, so I could see where I was going.  I wore a black top and long gloves too.  A scarf tidied up any loose ends of the pillowcase hear.

On the day: there were 5 floats and we came 2nd, call me biased but I thought our float was better than the winning one; the winners were in the back of a pick-up (hardly a mechanically drawn vehicle) decorated in branches from a tree, complete with  3 kids in animal outfits and a woman wearing a safari suit, they were In the Jungle. IMHO - not very creative, inventive and clearly shop-bought outfits, but I could be biased.

33mile bike ride training 1 week to go

Last weekend before the big ride, Sat 5th June was a scorcher and I decided not to go out, why? because I didn't want to melt.  If it's a scorcher next week then I'll melt into nothingness and it'll be okay.  If i melt too soon then I'll be put off for life.

USB loaded with 'motivational music', anything with an upbeat tempo (most Chemical Brothers tracks fit).  Also it's worth noting that when I cycle alone I listen to music to motivate me, a good beat keeps my cycling to a constant rhythm, and I sing along during th easy bits.
Note: I only wear the left headphone, the right one is for traffic.

I was sporting a new pair of cycling gloves too (Mr Lisa bought them for me) :)

And, I was trying out Mr Lisa's cycle-shoes (lucky we take the same size shoe), nice black shoes with velcro fastener at the top (I've always wanted a pair of velcro trainers).  he has told me I can wear them for the ride next week...I might :)

Weather at the coast was a bit overcast & misty, quite a contrast from yesterday.  Had a good ride, only 12 miles, but a nice ride nonetheless.
See the ride at Endomondo

Worst bit: St Mary's Lighthouse to Seaton Sluice (Delaval Arms)
Best bit: Waggonways (The Avenue near Seaton Delaval Hall, to Monkseaton Drive)