Tuesday, 20 December 2011

New boots (Fenwick sale Dec11)

When Fenwick does a shoe/boot sale I will always have a mooch. They tend to have a good range of size 8s and 9s to fit my big clodhoppers.

And whilst the sizing is good, I have been known to be disappointed, sometimes finding a good number of correctly sized footwear but incorrectly styled (too tall, pointy, furry, slutty, hideous).

Last week I went for a quick gander, I didn't realise there was a sale until I saw huddles of women around the shoes, and I felt I must "give it the once over."
I picked up and tried on 3 pairs of shiny boots in patent leather. Patent leather reminds me of the shoes I wore at primary school, and how they would shine up really well if you used a duster & Mr Sheen/Pledge.

And after the 3rd pair I was sold!
Dr Martenesque, 3 qtr leg, lace & zip, with brogue markings.
And £37.50 too, an absolute bargain.

I'll mostly wear them under my jeans/trousers like my other "street-urchin" boots.

Mr Lisa, unsurprisingly hates them.
But i don't care, at least I know he won't want to borrow them from me!


Secret Santa (twitter-style)

I began following @WeeklyBakeoff a few months ago, intrigued by their regular bake off with their followers, announcing "what to bake" and theory followers baking it.

Then they advertised a Secret Santa: participants would need to make/bake something to post it to a Secret Santa recipient, someone else who had volunteered, a complete stranger.

IMAG0901I took part, baked a variety of items, packaged them up nicely, prepared for posting and sent it to the person I'd been DM'd about in Twitter...then a few days later I received a package!

My gift was a home made decoration for home and a packet of homemade pretzels (covered in white chocolate) surprisingly moreish!

I was pleased to receive something from a complete stranger, made with care, thought and consideration.  I loved taking part, making things that I love to make and eat, taking care to wrap them so they wouldn't be damaged in the post.

I'll look out for it again next year and take part, next time I might craft something as well as bake something...

I know my Secret Santa recipient *did* receive their gift because I made sure I kept an eye on Twitter.

Senders had to tweet when they had sent their gift , and recipients had to tweet when they had received their gift. Simple really.

Christmas Cards 2011

Each year I make my Christmas cards, the same style card duplicated about 50 times and sent to friends, family and  colleagues.

Often my ideas aren't new, over the year I keep an eye out for something simple and easy to make.  I'll sometimes do a mock up before the final run, to check that the end card looks presentable.

I have rejected cards on the basis that "they look a bit shit" and I have shelved (but not totally rejected) the photo of a cheese-shaped christmas tree.

The Christmas card for 2011 was a reindeer head: a brown thumbprint for the head, felt tip alters, wobbly eyes & a red nose.

Underneath each I wrote a caption, ranging from "I'm not a reindeer, I'm a moose with a cold" to "I'm Rudolph, but on weekends you can call me Linda" trying to ensure any smutty/sweary or rude ones weren't sent to people with small children.


And if you want to steal the idea or yourselves for next year, feel free!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Private pie club, meeting Dec2011

Earlier this month I participated in Private Pie.
Private Pie is an underground movement of pie bakers across Newcastle. This was their inaugural meeting and I was fortunate enough to get a place.

Their theme was "your go-to pie" - the pie you bake/eat in times of need. For some reason I felt mine was a game pie. I think its because its hearty, meaty, homely and satisfying.

The worst part of the event was travelling to the venue, from my home in West Monkseaton, on the metro - carrying a warm pie, it smelt beautiful.  I almost considered not-going and just riding the metro system and eating my pie. But then I realised what a terrible thing that would be.  My pie needed to be eaten, shared amongst pie-afficionados, amongst the pie brethren.

I was very glad I went, we shared 6 delicious pies out, all of differing finishes and flavours, from the seasonal Christmas Pie (my favourite) to the potato-topped fish pie (cod & prawn), and an open flan-type-pie of salmon & watercress, to the winter warming apple and raspberry, and the rhubarb & custard-crumble-topped pie.

We all started very traditionally - eating the savoury creations before the sweet ones, and I felt myself thinking that pie is such a versatile foodstuff, you can have sweet and savoury...At that point my mind raced into the future possibilities for pie club - assuming that there will be another pie club???

The gathering was held in the very secretive, very lovely Flat Cap Joes, and if you don't know it - you're missing a treat.  It really is an underground, secret place in Newcastle, and if I told you where it was, it wouldn't be a secret anymore....

We discussed (at great length) the constituent parts of a pie, and asked: what is a pie? Which is the million dollar question, and probably one that will never be answered, it sits up there with "what is the meaning of life?" and "what am I here for?"

Pie Club was organised by Hayley & Nancy, and I take my hat (or flat cap) off to them for finding such a lovely venue, for organising the event.

My pie was a game pie, and the recipe  (of sorts) is below:


- Mixed game (I usually buy the mixed game packs from Sainsburys)
- Onion chopped
- 1 stick of celery chopped
- 1/2 pt of Mr Lisa's finest chicken stock
- About 6 mushrooms chopped
- 1 Carrot cubed
- 1 glass (ish) of red wine
- Thyme, Salt & Pepper

Brown off the meat, de-glaze the pan (with the wine), then put everything in a heavy-bottomed saucepan/Le Creusset type dish with lid, sling in everything else, bring to the boil and simmer for ages and ages and ages, so the meat is sweet and juicy, if it looks too wet take the lid off and reduce the liquor. Leave to cool.

Make hot water crust pastry using the recipe from the Be-ro Book.

Assemble the pie, crust on the outside, filling in the middle, attach lid, glue together (water/egg) and some fancy fingerwork to nip & twist for a professional looking crust (or forkwork), label appropriately with offcuts of pastry, eggwash and oven bake.

Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your pie - mine took a good 45mins on 180

Geek Chic

A couple of weeks ago I went to the very wonderful Made In Newcastle Christmas fair, held at the Royal Station Hotel, Newcastle.

Made in Newcastle are a unique group of like-minded creatives who lovingly craft objects of beauty, such as: books, jewellery, clothing, candles, cards, homeware, keyrings, purses, comics, art and sell them to you and me.
And all of the objects are made by clever folk who live in/around Newcastle - so you're also "buying local" too.  Less mileage, less carbon, and lots of "green" brownie-points too (green-brownie? - yeh, don't think about it too much).

It's the type of event that is guaranteed to provide you with original one-off objects, for someone special, rather than a high-street replica.

So I went along to buy some Christmas presents for my family...unfortunately everything I saw screamed "buy me, buy me" in a way that wasn't really very useful, because all I could see were items that were so lovely I wanted to buy them, not for my mum, or auntie. Oh no they were calling "buy me, and keep me all to yourself, you know you want me" and I really really did.

Despite my best efforts, I only bought one thing for myself, and I love it - it's this necklace, it's so cute and unusual in the way the bird chain sits through the branch, and at only £5 I decided it was too pretty to miss.

On closer inspection I thought that the bird was modelled on the Twitter logo, not that this bothers me, but it has been pointed out by a couple of people.  Is this what they call geek chic?

Where did I get it? Gabbysbazaar, but I couldn't find it online...But you will find other lovely stuff there anyway...The jewellery box says gabbysbazaar.etsy.com, but you can also find stuff on http://gabbysbazaar.blogspot.com/

What else did I buy?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Geek or freak?

Nail varnish with newsprint on them, and a Cheeky QR code I found too.

I don't often wear nail varnish but after seeing something on www.pinterest.com (my new favourite place for finding inspiration - things to make), it looked quite unique, easy to do and I thought I'd try it

What do I need?
Light coloured nail varnish, I used the white stuff I have for doing French Polish tips.
A newspaper, with squares torn to size (a piece the wraps around your nail)
Alcohol in an egg cup, I used pear vodka (only because we don't drink it)
Top coat, clear varnish.

Then all you do is:
1. Paint on the white coat, let it dry.
2. Wrap the newspaper around your nail the print closest to your nail will be transferred.
3.Dip your nail into the eggcup of vodka (or whatever alcohol you've chosen).
4. Remove finger from eggcup, press newspaper onto nail firmly (but careful not to smudge).
5. Peel off and you'll be left with the newsprint on your nail.
Note: its reversed so you can only read the story/article looking through a mirror.
6. Paint a layer of clear varnish over your nail to seal it.

Geek or freak?
Working in IT I thought I'd impress my colleagues by imprinting a QR code on my nail.
It looks pretty neat, but unfortunately I've been told that you can't read a QR code from a reverse image.

Where does the QR code take you (if it worked)? Some advert for TyneMet College.

What's the story on the nails? It's not actually a news story, its the used car adverts, I can do you a great deal on a 2010 Megane Scenic 2.1

Friday, 2 December 2011

A hard time (for me)

I've been pretty down lately, in my head I've built it up and believe it to be "everything" so much so that I've declared that I hate my job and want to leave, don't want children, don't want to exist.
I've looked at places to move to, jobs to apply for, potential buses to jump under, things I might need to buy and people I might need to call on in times like this.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Last night I dreamt I had a dirty ear

Last night I dreamt my mum told me I had a dirty ear, I was expecting it to be dirty with wax, but when I had a poke with a cotton bud with was thick with muck like I'd been rubbing my ear in the garden!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

How slow is sloe gin?

Sloe Gin wk5On 2nd October I began making sloe gin using sloes I'd picked on holiday, and I also wrote a very nice blogpost about it. Including a recipe and some nice photos.

I've been shaking it weekly, tipping it upside-down and back again (as recommended by the recipe).
It's been on the go (boil/brew/distillation) for 5 weeks, half the time it needs.

I might open one at 10wks and give the other 6months or longer, I don't drink that much sloe gin.

I thought I'd do an update, with photos so you can see how it's developing. And if mine looks completely wrong you can tell me so.

Sloe Gin wk5 

How's it looking?
Pinky-purple in colour and quite see-through.
The berries are still berry-shaped but slightly wrinkled, like you get when you've been in the bath too long.

It doesn't look syrupy like ribena (which is what I was expecting).

And there are a small number of berries that insist on floating whereas the majority sink to the bottom.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


This post has nothing to do with sewing or needles. It's a post about hair removal.

I quite like my eyes and have always tried to keep my eyebrows tidy.  They do have a certain unevenness about them, one tends to have a nice looking arch and the other doesn't quite know what it's doing.

Over the years I've waxed, plucked and  creamed, I've never shaved, lasered or electrolosis'd.  But this week I've had them threaded.

This strange looking hair removal procedure looks like a form of cats cradle, with the beautician holding a single twisted piece of ordinary sewing thread in her mouth and each hand, and then twists the thread whilst moving along the eye area and in the process hairs are plucked out.

It's difficult to describe what it looks like because couldn't open my eyes and watch at the same time, so I may need to watch it getting done so I can describe it better.

I also think it's one of those activities that you can't perform on yourself either.

Pain Factor: I'd rate this as a 6, it has the same feeling as plucking (with tweezers) but hairs seemed to be plucked out in a regular way, I felt the pt-pt-pt-pt-pt-pt-pt of an entire row of hairs being removed in one action. It wasn't painful, just  unusual. I wouldn't have it done on any other area of my body though.

Result: my eyebrows finally match, the immediate redness around the eyes went after about 30mins and the eye area is as smooth as Duncan Goodhew's head. I'm very pleased!

Will I go again? I might if they get unruly, or I mess up the shape. But I thought if they were done once (like that) I could keep on top of the shape.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Desert Island Albums (version 1)

Here's the challenge:
Pick 10 of your favourite albums to take to your desert island, the rules are: you have to own the album, you can't take "best of" or "greatest hits" or "live versions" and no compilations and you can't choose an album that's less than a year old You are allowed to take albums that pre-date you and you can change it each year.
This is my selection so far...but I'm still tinkering, and have found the whole exercise really difficult but enjoyed doing it.
So, in no particular order, here's my first version:
1. Queen, Sheer Heart Attack
2. Muse, Absolution
3. Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon
4. Pulp, Different Class
5. Goldfrapp, Felt Mountain
6. Divine Comedy, Casanova
7. Chemical Brothers, Exit Planet Dust
8. Massive Attack, Mezzanine
9. White Stripes, Elephant
10. Kasabian, West Pauper Lunatic Asylum
I'm not claiming any credit for this unique challenge, it was created by an acquaintance known only as  Dr Global (that's all you need to know about him)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Clandestine Cake Club, Newcastle upon Tyne: Wednesday 12th October 2011

Baileys Irish Cream Cake
Baileys Irish Cream Cake, baked by Julia
This month's gathering was slightly earlier than normal, it wasn't because I wanted my cake-fix early, oh no, it was because we wanted to celebrate National Cake Week.

The venue:
Our hosts were The Tyneside Cinema, a well loved, well managed, well swanky independent cinema located slap bang in Newcastle City Centre.

3rd floor Cafe Bar - our venue for the evening!
We were allocated a great little spot in their Cafe Bar on the 3rd floor, our cakes set up on along the back wall  guarded surrounded by our 12 bakers and their guests. 
The venue provide a great selection of drinks, I stuck to coffee, but some bakers enjoyed something a little stronger with their cake.

The venue was also open to cinema goers, and as they called in for pre-film refreshments they drooled at our fabulous array of cakery.

Once we'd had our fill, we invited the staff from The Tyneside Cinema to help themselves too - as a thank you for letting us use the venue, we had so much cake left!

Cakery The cakes:
This month we encouraged our bakers to bake for National Cake Week, choosing either a traditional cake from another place (county, country or planet) or select an ingredient from another country.  And our cake bakers didn't let us down - they were all out of this world.

This month seemed to cause us a range of baking-bruises (more than usual) from cracked tops, sinking middles, and gloopy icing.  But that didn't stop us sharing our tales of woe, our fixing solutions, and compared notes on 'what to do in this kind of situation.'

The cake menu:
  • Lisa  & guest – Double espresso & Brazil nut cake
  • Sarah (& guest) – Chocolate & Chile (or chilli) cake
  • Julia – Baileys Irish Cream Cake
  • Liz (& guest) Moroccan Orange & Almond Cake
  • Catherine - Jamaican Gingerbread cake
  • Kate  – Bara Brith
  • Val – Canadian Maple Syrup cake & walnut crunch layer cake
  • Emily – Malteser cake
  • Clare (& Jamie) – Victoria Sponge
  • Hannah @– Sushi Cake
  • Hayley  – White Russian Cake
  • Nancy (& guest) – Chocolate Guinness Cake
If there was ever a cake I'd wanted to try for a long time, it was the Chocolate Guinness cake.  So thank you to Nancy for baking this.  And it was as beautiful,as  rich, as dark and as delicious and ohhhh as I'd imagined.  You only need a small piece, and I guarantee you will be transformed to a special place made of cakey loveliness.  I did experience tingles down my spine when I ate this.

Stop Press!
This gathering also attracted interest from the local press, and Sarah Fielden from The Sunday Sun joined us to find out more about the club.  A couple of our bakers (Kate and Val) who've baked since the first event in July also spoke with Sarah, and there's a fab picture of Hayley and her White Russian cake along with a nice write up in The Sunday Sun on Sunday 16th October
Also available here

Thanks to:
  • The Tyneside Cinema: Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QG.  The perfect venue, great team of staff, and drinks (hot, cold, fizzy, strong)!
  • Sarah Fielden & colleagues from The Sunday Sun for their article
  • Hayley & her White Russian Cake - for agreeing to be snapped for the article!
  • All of our bakers: me, Sarah, Julia, Liz, Catherine, Kate, Val, Emily, Clare, Hannah, Hayley and Nancy (and your guests - we'd all be very fat without them)
  • To Lynn Hill for all of her support with Clandestine Cake Club
The next gathering had already been booked, and before we left that evening, we'd agreed upon a theme of Winter (& I added Wonderland, so I could steal borrow the lyrics from a famous Winter Wonderland song) and there are about 9 cakes already booked in.  See the Clandestine Cake Club website for more details and how to book a place.

Cake issues: Double Espresso & Brazil nut cake

Double Espresso & Brazil Nut Cake (troublesome little ******)
I baked (for the first time) a double espresso & brazil nut cake, which I found in a supplement from the Guardian (given to me about 4 yrs ago).

The cake was for the October gathering of Clandestine Cake Club I didn't do a practise cake and just went for it, was this my undoing?

And, I made an adjustment to the recipe: instead of using espresso powder, I used ristretto nespresso coffee.  This is a number-10 rating on the coffee scale, which I'd equate to an espresso hit.  However, when 'dispensed' through the machine it's liquid, and the recipe asked for powder.  However I took this into account by reducing the amount of milk the recipe asked for, hoping that would fix it.

It was a sloppy mixture, and I went through a whole raft of emotions in the mixing process, and I didn't trust the process and added another 50g flour, because it just looked far too wet.  Was this my undoing?

When cooked it looked fine.  I cooled it overnight and kept it in an airtight container.  The night before cake club I mixed up water icing and coffee, filled it, and topped it in icing, dressed it in brazil nuts (in a pretty flower pattern) and put it in the fridge.  Was this my undoing?

In the morning, the top had slid off the cake a little bit and a giant earthquake type crack had appeared across the cake (taking a lot of the icing in at the same time).  Not sure why this had happened, and did a quick repair job of a second coat of icing, removing and crushing the nuts.

The taste: at the Clandestine Cake Club I had a few people tell me how nice it was, one person said that it was as nice as her granny used to make (a fantasic compliment to receive).

But for me, it didn't have that great big woah, smack in the mouth coffee hit that I was looking for, and it also lacked moisture that I wanted too.

Next time...
I will use espresso powder
I will make sure there is a next time.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A delightful visit to Masham (YDH Day5 29Sep11)

On Thursday we woke to a beautiful sunrise and 'light' at the Jonas Centre: the light through the trees surrounding the cabins was stunning, and armed with the camera (8.30am) I headed out into another field to capture the sunlight and mist through the trees.  I'm not sure which is my favourite, but they're all very calming, relaxing and peaceful.  I'm not sure which of the 3 I prefer?

Sunlight through the trees, Jonas Centre, Redmire 1

Sunlight through the trees, Jonas Centre, Redmire 2

Sunlight through the trees, Jonas Centre, Redmire 3

We left at 10am and headed off into Masham, the final stop on our journey.  It was last, but not least: Masham meant breweries (Theakstons & Black Sheep), tea shops and overnight stay in a pub (a comfy bed and shower!!!)

When we arrived at the Black Swan, Fearby (1.5 miles from Masham) the smell of yeast and breweries hit our noses.  We didn't hang around long, we asked for directions to Masham and headed off (off-road, on foot) to Masham.  Our trek encountered sheep, cows, some very friendly horses and more exciteable pheasants!

By this time the sun was high and roasting us, so we stopped off at Suncatcher's Cafe, which fortunately wasn't in the sun at the time, it was in the cool shade - just what we needed.  They served a great latte (for me) and tea (for Carl) accompanied by 2 warm and juicy scones.

After sustenance we headed over to The Black Sheep brewery to check on tour-times and book in, the earliest we could get was 3pm, so we had to 'amuse' ourselves until then...What to do? We went to the other brewery and see what time their tours are (and have a beer while we're there).  So back across the town we went to Theakstons and sampled their Paradise Ale (for me) - a fruity little number and Lightfoot (for Carl).  Their tours were operating at the same time, so we decided we'd leave it and just do the Black Sheep one.
Which Theakson's ale should I choose?

With still an hour to kill and 1 beer supped, we had lunch in The Bay Horse, a pub on the front which specialised in 'Real' this and 'Real' that - so we decided to see if this 'Real' claim was as 'Real' as they said, and went for a sandwich with 'Real' chips.  Carl had ham baguette and I went for sausage & chutney baguette - and we had a bit of each others.  The bread was warm, the sausages juicy and the chutney tangy.  The chips were a real as their claim: thick cut and floury.  This was all washed down with a beer (Black Sheep for me & Mr Lisa).  Good choice!
Which Black Sheep ale should I choose?

Brewery Tour
As happy as a pig in muck, or drunk?
We went on the tour, which was okay as far as tours go, I thought the half-pint sample at the end was a bit tight (at the Guinness one they give you a full pint of Guinness).
A few things that I remembered from the tour:
  • They bottle their beer at a plant in Stockport, 
  • The spent mash is used as animal feed, 
  • They only have 21 full time staff working on the brewery side of things 
  • A Tun is a ma-hoo-sive barrel, 
  • A tap goes on the end of the barrel 
  • A spile lets the air into a barrel (first a wooden one, then a plastic one).

I also broke my zip on my jeans (the zip was already half broken - it wouldn't stay up), but this time it came off the runners, so I was walking with my flies open.  Lucky I wore a long top.

Outside was baking hot so we stopped at Joneva (on the market place) for ice cream, I went for 2 scoops: Cappuccino and Apricot & Ginger and Carl went for Mint choc chip and Wild Cherry.

The Black Swan, Fearby

The Black Swan Fearby - website

Our return journey to The Black Swan avoided the friendly horses; Carl wasn't too happy about them nuzzling his new rucksack and sniffing his ears.

Accommodation - what you got...
The accommodation was in a separate block at the rear, each looked like a little cottage, one window downstairs and one upstairs.

A swanky looking room: similar to the one we had (from website)
Ours was a downstairs: the door opened up into a massive room, with kingsize bed (2-singles joined together), wall mounted TV (if you fancied it), desk with tea/coffee making, hairdryer, comfy chairs, table, usual local literature and massive wardrobe. There was a single window at the front, with sash window.  At the back an ensuite bathroom with bath and shower.  The room had a gorgeous wooden floor with underfloor heating (not that we needed it), a stone floor in the bathroom, dimmer lights, a comfy bed and good quality linen.

The room was finished and made up to a really high standard, and had either just been done (in the last 3 months) or was really well maintained.

It was pretty luxurious compared to the last few nights, and it was great to have a shower and dry my hair with a hair dryer!!

The pub has a real rustic, old style charm, boasting a fine collection of porcelain potties hanging from the ceiling, but also cheery and bright, with a fresh feel about it at the same time.
There were probably another 5 couples having dinner in the restaurant that night, all of which (I assumed) were staying. We pondered the menu over a Black Sheep beer, and shared our starter of black pudding, bacon and baked goats cheese starter, followed with a sirloin steak (each): a generous, thick, 10oz sirloin cooked rare (to perfection) and finished with a green pepper sauce.  It was served with fried tomatoes, which were spot on, mushrooms and chips (thick rough-cut, skins on, and really tasty).

I finished with a treacle tart, and ice cream, I loved that sticky sweet syrupy crumby filling you get inside the pastry case and tried to think back to the last time I had one....Ages ago.

We had a few more Black Sheep ales before I gave up and had a cup of tea instead.

Places to visit in Masham:
  • The Black Swan, Fearby Fearby, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4NFand also on twitter @BlackSwanFearby
  • Black Sheep Brewery,Wellgarth, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4EN
  • Theakstons BreweryThe Brewery, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4YD
  • The Bay Horse  Silver Street, Masham, North Yorkshire, HG4 4DX
  • Suncatcher's Cafe,  52 Market Place, Masham, Ripon HG4 4EF
  • Joneva, 7 Market Place, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4DZ
  • Beaver's Butchers, aka The Masham Sausage Shop, 11 Silver Street, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 4DX
  • WS Rogers & Son, Butchers, 14 Church St, Masham, HG4 4DR
  • Or you can just go to Visit Masham
I think I'd like to move to Masham and live there, it seems to have everything close at hand. Maybe if I won the lottery I'd move there, or have a holiday home there.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sloe Gin

I picked some Yorkshire sloes on a recent holiday and brought  them home to make sloe gin using a recipe from the lovely Nigel Slater.

Washed sloes ready for GIN

Ingredients for 2 bottles:
  • x2 1 litre bottles
  • 1 litre of gin (non-expensive), I used Gordon's (he was okay when I asked him)
  • 526g caster sugar
  • 600g sloes (washed & pricked with a fork)
Put into each bottle:
  • 500ml gin
  • 213g sugar
  •  300g sloes

Put the lids on the bottle.
Shake each bottle until the sugar dissolves.
Store the bottles somewhere cool and dark.
Each week shake the bottles to mix everything up.
Continue your weekly shake for 10weeks, the longer you leave it the better it gets.
Nigel didn't actually say how to serve the sloe gin, my feeling was that I'd pour it though a tea strainer and leave the sloes in the bottle to keep the flavour intensifying.
As for how to drink it, I'll be drinking it with ice, if you're unsure then try with lemonade, soda or tonic.

When will mine be ready?
Picked on 27th September from Redmire.
Made into sloe gin on Sunday 2nd October.
Due date 10th December

To view the photo annotations, view the Making Sloe Gin photo set in flickr

A walk around Hawes (YDH Day4 28Sep11)

A walk in the Yorkshire Dales, near Hawes
After 2 days of bicycling and/or shopping we'd decided to have a more leisurely day; drive to Hawes and explore the area on foot.  Armed with sandwiches, walking boots and an Ordnance Survey map we decided upon a circular walk: Hawes > Gayle > Hardraw > Hawes.  I was head of navigation, for a short time, until we discovered I'd taken us slightly off route, 3 fields away from the track we needed to be on.  So Mr Lisa took over at the helm.

Appersett, nr Hawes

Yes - this was really September
It was a beautifully warm, sunny day, there weren't many people around (doing the same route) and we took things at a steady pace.

The walk took us over fields, tracks and up hills, and it was nice to get out into the middle of nowhere.

There were plenty of excitable moorland birds, mostly grouse and pheasants and for a short time nearly adopted a farm dog.

The farm dog who wanted to join us

A pint at The Crown, Hawes


Hawes for a pint (& tea & cake)

Back in Hawes, stopped at The Crown for a pint of beer to quench our thirst, and onto a teashop for cake and a cuppa (my second coffee cake in 2 days).

Dinner in Leyburn
We booked into The Sandpiper Inn (Leyburn) for dinner, and it was well worth the visit, our favourite meal of the holiday.

Carl went for:
  • Ham Hock Terrine with Balsamic Shallots & Watercress
  • Pressed Dales Lamb with Summer Vegetables & a Redcurrant & Mint Sauce
  • Strawberry Knickerbocker Glory
I went for:
  • Seared Queen Scallops with Caramelised Belly Pork & Pea Puree
  • Slow-cooked Wensleydale Beef with Campbell’s Black Pudding & Roasted Vegetables
  • Baked lemon cheesecake
The food was absolutely delicious, everything was cooked to perfection, the meat was tender and the accompanying sauces complimented the flavours.  We were very very pleased we gave Leyburn another try for dinner.

Places to eat/drink:
Peacock Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly

Biking or shopping? (YDH Day3 27Sep11)

A picture from the tops (between Redmire-Fremlington)

The weather was good, Carl wasn't aching from the bike ride yesterday so we agreed to split up: Carl was going off with some bike and I was going off shopping to Richmond. Deal.

I dropped Carl off at The Dales Mountain Biking Centre and left him to it.

Grinton to Richmond was a 10 mile drive, I parked on the market square and had 2 hours to shop before I had to move the car.

Let's do Richmond

I began at York House, a shop which you could literally lose yourself in, it was a mish-mash of objects ranging from antiques, and old stuff, quirky 'homeware' gifts,  handbags, jewellery local art.  It's the shop that I get steered away from with Mr Lisa.  If you were to put all of the Tynemouth market stalls (Saturday & Sunday) into a shop - this is what you'd get.  I must have spent a good 40 minutes in there, and bought a matryoshka moneybox -only this only had 1 layer, a purse covered in felt flowers (which I'm going to remove the flowers and use on a top), a packet of lexicon cards and 10 cigarette cards.  A bizarre combination of stuff, but I have ideas in mind...

The next shop along from York House (or there abouts) was a great little deli called Jeffersons their window had a map of the region which pin pointed the items they stocked and where they came from - a great idea!  Part of my mission today was to return to the ranch with Yorkshire Tapas, a selection of cheeses and nibbles so that we could stay in the cabin for dinner, and save a few pennies.  I decided to re-visit them later on my rounds.

Cross View Tearooms
By this time I was hungry, so called in at Cross View Tearooms, and had a really great sandwich, one I'll recreate back home: Wensleydale, Apple, Walnuts, Mayonnaise and Mango Chutney.  They all worked so nicely, crunchy and tarty yet sweet and creamy, it was very delicious.  And the lovely lady in there who served me also lent me her pen, as I was also trying to do some Clandestine Cake Club homework.

Time was running out on the free parking, so I went back to Jeffersons and got 4 local cheeses, a great Apricot chutney (as recommended by the owners), a big slice of cheese (coverdale) and onion quiche, some crackers, some gorgeous thick-cut ham and a free tub of pease pudding (lucky Mr Lisa - I'm not a fan).  I also bought a nice seeded loaf from Peters Bakery in the town too.

Places in Richmond to eat, drink & shop:

Revisiting an old friend...
Next stop - some photos down by the river Swale, and the waterfalls, followed by a 10 minute walk to Cornforth Hill. Why? Cornforth is my maiden name, and about 25yrs ago I had my picture taken next to the sign by friends on a day trip.  The sign's looking old now - you can hardly make it out, but it does say CORNFORTH HILL.
Other pics of Richmond...
Richmond Castle overlooking the Swale
River Swale

River Swale

Afternoon tea (& cake)?
Mr Lisa's view from his bike ride

I didn't have afternoon tea in Richmond, I actually saved myself for more cake at The Dales Mountain Biking Centre - and went for coffee cake, with coffee.  I arrived back there for about 3pm, Mr Lisa had been back from his ride only 10 minutes earlier - he'd had fun

Air Ambulance leaving

We nipped over to Reeth, for an ice-cream (yes we'd only just eaten cake) and had a suprise visit from the Air Ambulance, which landed in a field just behind us.

Eye spy a tree or two of sloes
Redmire Station at dusk
On our Sunday walk around Redmire, we found a large collection of sloes and decided that we'd take ourselves a small bag and make our own sloe gin and call it Redmire Sloe Gin.  So at dusk we headed out to pick sloes, had a stop off at The Bolton Arms in the village and went back to the cabin for our local dinner.

Dinner was a pick & mix menu of local produce, cheeses, bread, ham, flan - mostly from Jeffersons of Richmond and wine (the only thing that wasn't local) - a tasty selection of yumminess.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Ladies Lunch at Blackfriars: Make-up (The Perfect Base)

On Tuesday I decided to be a "lady" and attend a "Ladies' Lunch" event at Blackfriars in Newcastle, this was the 3rd month of "Ladies' Lunch & Talks" organised and run by Blackfriars.  Previous talks, as I understand included one on champagne (how did I miss this?).  And the one I went to on Tuesday was all about make-up.
See - I look like a clown
My make-up Dilemma
I'm one of those people who has had the same routine for years: moisturiser, foundation, bit of blush & curl the eyelashes.  If I'm going out on an evening I'll venture into a bit of mascara.
As for eye-shadow, eye liner and lipstick, whether worn individually or tried all together, I just look like a man in drag or a clown.
Don't ask me about what I think about the women who work on make-up counters, that's just another scary world that I don't want to venture into.
I don't blame the equipment, I know it's not that, because there are many people I know who do know how to apply their make up properly, and look very beautiful, glamourous and 'enhanced.'

The talk
The talk was delivered by Kerry Nicholson of The Perfect Base, her credentials included make-up artist to the cast of Emmerdale, several films, TV shows including something called 'Geordie Shore?'  So she knew her stuff, and when I was asked to be her glamourous guinea pig assistant, I felt like I was in safe hands.
Kerry doesn't just do talks like this, and make up to the stars, she also does classes, tuition, weddings, promotional events, parties and makeup shopping.
The talk, interspersed with questions, queries and quibs from a lively audience of 8 of us went on for over an hour and a half!

We were aged between 20-something and 60-something, each of us had varying degrees of make-up experience, skills and confidence.  We might have only been a group of 8 but we all had our own little niggles and took full advantage of Kerry's expertise.  Kerry answered all our questions, she was very thorough, patient and was pretty much a font of knowledge on all things makeup, products, brands and tools of the trade!
What I especially liked about Kerry's talk was that she had a knowledge of a wide range of makeup products, tools tips and tricks, it wasn't all about buying expensive products or kit.  This service was just what I needed, something you don't get from the makeup counters in Boots/John Lewis/Fenwicks etc.
What I learnt:
Well I know now what order I should be applying things.
  • Moisturiser
  • Primer: the stuff that smooths out indents, wrinkles etc.
  • Foundation - doesn't have to be used all over (a revelation to me)
  • Concealer
  • Bronzer: adds a bit of colour, it's not just for holiday-tan look (remembered the 3-shape & W-shape)
  • Eyes*: line, shadow, curl eyelashers, mascara
  • Blush
  • Lipstick
*Eyes - I got a little frightened at the eyes: she applied eye liner all the way under the eyes something I never do - it's the look I never go for.  The audience loved it, they commented on how good it looked, I winced and shook my head and Kerry took it off for me, the crowd weren't happy, but I want makeup to make me feel confident, and that look wasn't doing it for me and Kerry (the expert as always) realised this, and acted on this.

I went with a couple of friends, Catherine and Sophia, who both took 'after' photos, but I'm not uploading them into here!

I also learnt that I might have a new venue to try for Clandestine Cake Club events & will be in touch with Blackfriars soon to discuss the details!
The Lunch
The lunch was eaten in Blackfriars Restaurant on a large communal table, we chose 3 courses from their Express Lunch menu: at least 4-5 starters, mains and desserts.

I chose Home smoked salmon, with roasted beetroot for starter (sweet, smoky and delicious), followed by 6oz steak, cooked rare (could have been a tad rarer, but it was very nice), and baked rice pudding with shortbread and pumpkin & ginger jam (which was absolutely delicious!)

Thanks to:
Blackfriars  - for great food, great company & a nice way to spend a Tuesday afternoon (we didn't leave until 3.30pm)
Kerry Nicholson, from The Perfect Base - very professional, patient and the font of knowledge (imho) on all things make-up

Sunday, 2 October 2011

I like to ride my bicycle...(YDH Day2)

View to Fremlington (nr Grinton)
One of the reasons we chose this part of the country was because of the biking - mountain biking to be specific.  I don't really look like a mountain biker, and to be honest, I'm not.  I have a bike, I can ride, I don't like uphills but I love downhills.

Pedalling like buggery
Mr Lisa on the otherhand is a mountain biker, he does ups and downs, offroad and onroad, and not just on holiday.  He'll ride to work and back!

Carl was particularly interested in visiting The Dales Mountain Biking Centre, over the hill (literally) 4 miles away in Fremington (between Grinton and Reeth).  The centre offered bike hire, local rides, training, accommodation and a cake shop.  We arrived early-ish and chose a 'gentle' ride (as Carl requested) which took us along one side of the river Swale, over the bridge to the other, along to Gunnerside, crossing the river again and back to Fremington (a 15 mile round trip) with an optional pub stop at Gunnerside.

The first part of the ride was horrid, up a steep hill, I did have to get off and push.  It was far too early in the morning for me to be riding up hills like that.  Fortunately that was the steepest bit of hill in the entire ride, so it was good to get it done early.

The route took us off the road and onto tracks, the downhills were puddly, muddy, rocky and wuhoooooooooooo and the uphills (though not many) were slow and always began with a handful of swear words from me.  Carl was suprised at the amount of energy expended in complaining about the hill before I'd actually ridden it.  But that's just "my coping mechanism."
I don't always wear my cycle helmet outdoors, I have a bike as well

Uphill (again)...
There was a horrid-horrid road bit just before Gunnerside, but the free-wheeling into Gunnerside was nice, and a can of coke in the beer garden was just what I needed before the return journey.
Crackpot? Who? Where? Me?

The best bit (more downhill)...
The journey back was mostly off road, it was a great mix of rubble-rocky downhills, mud-tracks with deep puddles (which I couldn't help but ride through), a cobbled bit which ran right along the riverside, really tricky to ride - but I did it, which turned into a grass path, slow but ending with a slope into a singletrack, and rocky-muddy stretch, we finished back on the road we started, and into the Dales Mountain Biking Centre for food (& cake).

I still don't have great technique going up; I sit back and pedal like buggery, and going downhill I'm a bit reckless; I hold on tight, let the front suspension ride the bumps, I'll keep my balance, whooping and squealing with excitement, then get to the bottom and think about what I'd just done, and how fast I'd just done it.

Our route: Fremington - Gunnerside - Fremington (abt 15miles) Top Speed: 28mph!

Lunch & cake
That's MUCK not hair!
Back in The Dales Mountain Biking Centre cafe, we compared mucky legs (Carl's looked worst, because his are hairier than mine), he washed the bikes, we got changed and enjoyed a late lunch, which did include cake.

Carl eyed up some very expensive full suspension bike, and enquired about hiring her out later in the week, Tuesday looked to be the best day for it...

Dinner at The Bridge Inn, Grinton
Dinner that night was at The Bridge Inn, Grinton - a cosy place right by the river, before you get to Fremlington.  We both opted for specials, Carl chose grouse and I chose monkfish.  Mine was delicious, meaty fish with a sweet, buttery, fennelly sauce.  Carl's grouse had a real gamey taste, I'd never had it before - and was expecting something like pheasant, but it wasn't it was more like venison in taste and texture - which wan't what I'd expected.

I was designated driver, and took us back over the hill to Redmire.  At the top we stopped to look at the stars - it was such a clear night we could even see the Milky Way.