2016. The Review. Pt2

May!

I do love a food special, and this month proved to be a feast.

As well as learning about the wonders of sheep’s milk with Top Paddock Dairy and tucking into proper pub grub in Oving , I had the wonderful opportunity of time-travelling thanks to the Repast supperclub.

The latter, as bewildering as it might sound, was the simple but brilliant idea of Haywards Heath chef Sam Bilton.

Our culinary adventure was back to Venice’s rich past, and from start…

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(polenta squares topped with salted cod and mushrooms)

To the end…

fritters

(fritelli – almond filled donut fritters)

It was amazing.

June

I’m sticking with food and I’m not even sorry, I mean how often to you get to talk to a chef whose signature dishes are all made using hotel room appliances?

From steaks steamed in the shower to a full English he insists is ‘better than the what you’d get in the buffet downstairs’, the aptly named George Egg has come up with in-genius ways to create it all.

July 

Mermaids, flamingos and badgers in bowties – time for something a bit different.

HS Sugarhill Boutique 'Hartley Beach Scene Fit & Flare Dress' £49.jpg

My two favourites for July were Brighton fashion band Sugarhill Boutique (above) and the equally bright and brilliant Eastbourne alphabet by artist Clare Dales.

EASTBOURNE AN ALPHABET RGB.jpg

August

Lewes-based VRAC teas  would have claimed the top spot this month, if it wasn’t for my behind the scenes visit to Chichester’s Timothy Roe jewellers.

I mean this Goodwood bangle by them is reason enough that it was special..

Day at the races 1.jpg

…but for me it had a personal connection as this jewellers is where my engagement ring (finally) came from and I got to find out how it was made.

*Finally because I was the one choosing it, not because I am a bunny boiler. But I’m sure, one day, I’ll get around to sharing that story on here.

2016. The review. Pt1

Nothing like thinking in November ‘I should check that long-neglected blog’ and seeing the last headline is about New Year’s Resolutions…

I assure you I’ve been writing everything but this thing.

Partly to prove it, and partly because I’ve just put the December magazine to bed, I thought it’d be a good time for a bit of a stock check.

So * insert top of the pops countdown music here* in at January we had…

Learning about fly fishing

laura-has-a-go

I love how random this is already.

The highlight was managing to catch another hook out of a tree, which I’m still convincing myself take skill. The lowlight was catching my own hair…

February

Has to go to Edible Arrangements

hedgeinvest-delivery-tray

A brilliant and inspiring company which works to match your table decorations with your menu. Honestly, check it out!

March 

This is a toughie but as much as I loved writing about Truth and Tails – books for children with a social twist – and experiencing the Light Technique in Brighton, there was on topic I featured that has blossomed into a hobby…

Calligraphy, with Kirsten Burke

picture-stewart-grant-4

Just look at that concentration! And excuse to own quills… (Picture by Stewart Grant)

April 

Being a bit of a random fact fan, it has to be the story which lead me to learn the cut flower industry is worth more than the music industry (average of £36 per person).

Crosslands Nursery

 

 

Wrapping up 2015 with a big bow

There is something almost ironic about not having the time to take stock.

Even when I do try, it always seems to turn into a ‘to do’ list making exercise.
What I’ve done being met by, then clouded over by, what I haven’t – yet.

credit Peppercorn Photography

credit Peppercorn Photography

Being busy is something we can all relate to. It is just the reasons vary person to person.
Lately I’ve been learning a lot, including that I didn’t really know what ‘busy’ was.
Aren’t the lessons which come with owning your own house are numerous and broad?

Anyway, rather than talking about rewiring, textured wallpaper and weeds (you can find more than enough of that in my weekly columns) I thought I would take the chance to look at the shiner side of life – quite literally – and do a must overdue update for my magazine section.

June (I know, I know) is a tough month to pick a favourite article from, namely because it is the month of our food special.
I really enjoyed getting to know the Hastings-based Baked by the Sea girls who offer cream teas by post, and meeting the mastermind behind the wasabi vodka and watercress gin of Winchester’s Twisted Nose.

It’s a tough job isn’t it?

credit Peppercorn Photography

credit Peppercorn Photography

Then there was the beautiful fashion of Shoreham’s Sula, beer making in Brighton, spending time at Caroline’s Dairy’s ice-cream empire and being inspired by the hyper-real artistry of Janine Shute.

In the end, I went with the one I find myself talking about the most – partly for its quirkiness and partly because spirits are having a great time of it at the moment.

So for more of my chat with Paul Bowler, founder of Twisted Nose, and his work to offer a tipple with ‘a real home, real roots, local flavour and a local story’ see HERE.

July was a slightly easier task as I fell head over heels for Christmas Cottage in Hampshire. I mean just look at it ..

Picture: Fox & Sons

Picture: Fox & Sons

Fox & Sons

Fox & Sons

And the amazing interior remodel was inspired by a pub.

AND the owner was really lovely and offered me a game of boules next time I was local.

It was just the full package, as you can find out HERE.

Pic: Mi Elfverson

Pic: Mi Elfverson

Pole dancing, arts festivals and illustrator Lauren Child made sure August was far from dull.

But as someone who spends far too long at their desk, a chance to get out into the countryside made for an extra special piece.

The story was about Walk&Talk4Success, which does what it says on the tin really offering business mentoring and support but on the move.

I met the group at Wakehurst Place and spent a lovely walk sharing ideas and solutions.. it was simply brilliant.

If I am being honest September was a two horse race for the title of ‘favourite’, in the running is Amanda Saurin and her amazing company As. Apothcary  who opened my eyes to natural beauty – in the best sense.

Then there’s The Future Kept which isn’t given justice by the description ‘online lifestyle stop’.
I pretty much want to own everything it sells and live in the photos on the website.

The Future Kept JPEE JPE6 Hastings Sept15

The Future Kept

The Future Kept

The Future Kept

See what I mean?

But, seeing as my list has some home but no skincare, As.Apothecary has to be the victor. And, in a job where I get to meet some amazing people, because I openly admit if I had to work anywhere else it would be for Amanda.

AS.Apothecary

AS.Apothecary

Something arty would have to sneak in my list somewhere, and for October and November I was lucky enough to have my two passions come together – seeing me write about amazing creative people.
Kate Sherman captures time passing through the laborious medium of painting – a contrast I just really, really, like…

Kate Sherman

Kate Sherman

Kate Sherman

Kate Sherman

John Napier might be a name you don’t know, but chances are you’ll know his work.
He’s created sets for the likes of Les Misérables, Cats and Starlight Express. The helicopter in Miss Saigon? Also his.
Not bad for someone who admitted to me for November’s magazine, that he once believed theatre design ‘was about drawing rooms, choosing the colour of the sofa – I thought that was pretty much it’.

John Napier. Picture: Julian Napier

John Napier. Picture: Julian Napier

For someone who edited an annual food special this year.. (me).. I feel like we could do with something edible on the list. For December this is a choice between Kyoto Kitchen, a Winchester restaurant giving its own twist to Japanese cuisine, or the Sussex Food and Drink Awards Young Chef cook off – which was a mouthful in more ways than one.

It seems right to choose the one which made me think more about my cooking, and only one made me want to mousse a pumpkin. .

Stephanie's Pumpkin Starter

Sussex Young Chef Grand Finalists, Stephanie Haywood, Michael Sutherland & Ryan Tomkinson

Seems a good a place as any to end this post, and year.

Roll on the next one : )

Birthday cakes for Delia Smith

June’s Chichester cake club fell on the 18th, aka Delia Smith’s birthday and so the theme was set.

ippWe could bake anything, as long as the recipe belonged to the Queen of home cooking.
The results were brilliant, obviously. I chose the banana chocolate chip slice..cake.. which I’ve already made since as it is both really easy and really delicious.

Less of a batter and more of a crumble it did scare me before going in, but it turned out beautifully and served still warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream it managed to keep some of my male friends quiet which is always a good test of success.

Before oven

Before oven

After

After

This is the gang..

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And here’s a collection of other bakes from the night..

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Inside West Dean College

There’s some assignments my work sees me go on that gives me a certain feeling in my stomach.
It’s a good feeling. A this-is-why-I-do-what-I-do feeling. And my trip to West Dean yesterday was on such example.

Now, excuse me while I go a bit soppy, but I fell for this magical place on my first visit and each trip after has just deepened my love affair.

This weekend sees the college open to the public, something that only happens once a year, so an invite to the press preview was not something I was going to turn down.

From the Oak Hall to the purple hallway dotted with spectacular artwork – including the Dali ‘lips’ couch and an ancient dolls house used as a training aid for the servants to know what job was next – it was all I could do not to let my jaw hang open. After all I am a professional, I have a notebook to prove it. But let me tell you my insides were doing a happy skip the whole way around.

Anyway, enough of that. And time for some of this…

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I probably have a million versions of this picture on my camera and phone.. I can’t seem to go to West Dean and not take it.

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Now, it’s probably not fair to have favourites, but if West Dean let me stay (forever) I know I would live in the Oak Hall. The wood panelling, that fireplace, the ornately carved mezzanine floor you can’t see because I took this picture from there…

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My visit also coincided with the launch of Sue Timney’s surrealist collection. The college’s history with the art movement is thanks to Edward James who was a patron of a lot of the female surrealists and even collaborated with Dali.. because if you are going to do something you might as well do it properly.

So the table was laden with the new pieces, half from the surrealist floral range – inspired by a bedspread of James’ – and the other influenced by his obsessions with turtles. Sue herself was amazing, and I may have got a bit ‘fan girl’ about the whole occasion. But, hear me out, she had helped turn around the Laura Ashley homewares department and was involved with one of my favourite builds featured on Grand Designs – the London water tower. 

Sue enjoys tea with the paparazzi..

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I would have taken more pictures if I wasn’t hanging on/trying to write down every word Sue said. For the record it has to be the first time I’ve ever written ‘architrave’ in shorthand and translating it correctly may have been a highlight of my afternoon back in the office.

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One day, tiles like these will be mine.

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The collection includes camouflaged aprons, vaguely seen on the left side here, as well as silk cushions and scarves and fine china tableware. Both designer and college said they are ‘seeing this as just the beginning’ – do you think I could RSVP now for the next launch?

 

Three servings of Chichester Clandestine Cake Club

Grab a spoon!
It’s a much overdue cake club update spanning March to May, from boozy bakes to “something missing” with a bit of Easter in the middle for good measure.

March ~ Boozy bakes and other tipples
ippThis month saw we serve up, fittingly, a bit of a tipsy looking Butterbeer cake.
Inspired by Harry Potter and helped by butterscotch Angel’s Delight (yes really) thankfully it tasted better than it looked..

While my mum dished up a delicious Pina Colada which was made up of more pineapple than cake..

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Our resident sweet shop owner (every cake club should have one) served up a cherry cola extravaganza (below left) and to wash it around was this zesty lemonade number… Thanks to Wests for playing host!

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Then the Easter bunny paid us a visit.. something I took quite literally for my April bake.
ippIt was carrot cake.. of course. And I’ll upload a step by step for the bunny bum form at some point.
Other treats he brought us included everything from the traditional to the mini egg masterpiece.
Thanks to The Bell Inn for looking after us.
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For May we marked the club’s 2nd Birthday with a trip to Marco’s and a game of “what’s missing.”
The theme was inspired by the growing number of alternative recipes around from gluten free to vegan, so anything was possible, as long as something was missing…
I went flourless with this raspberry and chocolate number topped with crunchie crumbs.
ippAnd, much like the dairy free number I made a little while ago it probably tops the list for bakes I have been the most chuffed with – which is no mean feat if you know what a critic I am! Even the chef came out for a sample and a thumbs up from him was good enough for me : )

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Jan was also up to it again, after her tomato soup cake surprise, we had this beauty above. The hidden ingredient? Mash potato. While lovely Lucy treated us to dairy free vanilla, and the first outing of her heart silicone mould.
ippRight… with our next meeting tomorrow, celebrating everything Delia Smith (the date falls on her birthday) I better get a move the oven on!
We are always welcoming to new members (and more cake) so please check us out – http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/groups/chichester/ – it’s once a month, usually the third Wednesday, and such tasty fun!

Exciting news at etc Magazine…

July FrontSo. In a quiet moment amid the madness let me tell you what the devil has been going on.

Some of you will know I write for etc Magazine, a lifestyle publication covering Sussex which has three editions each month, the rest of you.. well.. you know now : )

It has been three years now and I still don’t want to risk saying too much as I always have the sneaking suspicion someone will come in and bust me for not having a “proper job” and make me go into the real world.

But I digress. I write stuff.
And, to get to the point of this post and the “exciting news.”

From August onwards we will be doing FOUR magazines a month – adding Hampshire to our quest for world domination.

And.. this means I have a new colleague and co-writer taking the team up to three (it is the magic number it would seem.)