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what happens when you try to arrange a wedding in five weeks

November 21, 2013 1 comment
Last year I suggested we actually do it some time. I was on a beach, he was in the pub

Last year I suggested we actually do it some time. I was on a beach, he was in the pub

I have been with The Man for nearly 10 years. He has been threatening to marry me for many of those years. However, having been married three times already between us, it’s never been a priority. The fact that he has out-lasted both my previous marraiges put together has also lessened the need.

But about six weeks ago, I realised that my driving license had expired (check yours guys – I had no idea!), and it was in my previous married name. So, I was going to have to change my name on it.

I made the comment that “I wasn’t going to chnage my name on it now, just to change it again in a coouple of years time”, and with that, we went to the registry office and booked “The first Saturday available”. Which was last Saturday.

The Girl has been obsessed with us getting married eventually, and has mentioned it at least three times a week – even more so after her dad remarried. So, we obviously wanted her there, but apart from that, I’m not particularly into weddings, and I don’t like dressing up, and everything just seemed like too much fuss and bother. However, I LOVE a party!  I was in a quandry as to what to do.

So, I asked a wonderfully skilled friend if he would make our rings, to make it more personal and unique.  Him and his partner were the first outside our family to know.  Then, we finally relented and said family and closest friends could come along.  However, in ordeer to keep the amount of wedding chat to a minimum, I only told the girl 6 days beforehand when I had to take her out to get a dress!

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I booked the ‘wedding breakfast’ in the back room at the Village Kitchen – Hanna and the team couldn’t have been more accommodating, and we gave the kitchen a resounding round of applause on the day.  Do check it out some time guys if you haven’t already – we had nothing but great comments from people.

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The party had to be over the Rose & Crown, and I decided to get a karaoke and a photo booth. The wonderful people of Open Booths were amazing, and it really was a highlight of the evening – I highly recommend getting a photo booth for some brilliant memorable pics of your loved ones, and the Open Booth gives you so much more scope for merriment.

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But then the other highlight was our cake.

After seeing a Wizard of Oz cake that he’d made for his neice, I asked my lovely friend Darren if he would be interested in making me an anti-wedding cake that was Walthamstow themed. He jumped at the chance and the conspiring began.  Originally, I had asked for me & The Man sitting on top of a pile of abandoned mattri (Walthamstow is famous for its abandoned mattresses, don’t ya know?) but it became so much more than that. It features our favourite places, our cats, The Girl, Warren Sreet station where we met (even though it’s obviously not Walthamstow where we were both living at the time), panda bowl man, pigeons. It was an absolute work of art. A showstopper – made clear by the amount of time people took taking photos of it when we brought it out. I can’t thank Darren enough!

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All in all, given the amount of time I had to do it in, I think it was a bloody good day, and I am so grateful to every single person who came and shared our day. I wouldn’t have had it any other way – certainly not with months of stress and planning!

coalition, pleasance theatre

March 1, 2013 3 comments

Coalition

I was totally spoilt last night as a lovely friend treated me to theatre and a meal as a belated birthday pressie.

We went off to the Pleasance Theatre, just round the corner from Caledonian Road tube station.  The Pleasance Theatre and The George Shillibeer (the gorgeous pub below) inhabit the space that used to be the London Omnibus Company (the omnibus was created by George Shillibeer – hence the name).  It’s an unexpectedly lovely space!

We went on the exact right night to see Coalition, considering the Eastleigh by-election was going on at the time!

The play starts with various news reel segments from the last election, finishing on the fact that we’re now under a coalition government (as if we hadn’t realised) and finished with “Four years later…”

Thom Tuck plays Nick Clegg – I mean Matt Cooper, Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister whose ratings aren’t great, who doesn’t seem to have the ear of the Prime Minister any more and whose own MPs are threatening to defect.  His supporters are angry that policies haven’t been going through and he doesn’t seem able to make anyone happy at all – including his wife.

Phil Jupitus is frivilously wonderful as the Rt Hon Sir Francis Whitford MP, Minister without Portfolio – a rather dandy, spat-attired, camp Tory with a penchant for eating fruit and an unnerving ability to perfectly time a text announcment of his immenent arrival.

Jo Caulfield plays the Lib Dem Chief Whip – trying to balance Whitford’s gossiping and undermining with Cooper’s frantic, almost unstable demands with what she feels is really best for her party.

With Jessica Regan as Cooper’s special advisor, these main four characters give extremely strong performances.  They are almost TOO believable!  I had to keep reminding myself that this is actually a work of fiction and although based loosely on current affairs, isn’t a documentary!

Most disconcerting was Thom Tuck, who many MANY times looked exactly like Nick Clegg.  Scary stuff!  Alistair Barrie also gave a brilliant performance as a ‘wronged’ Lib Dem who then forces a by-election…and I would really have enjoyed seeing more of him!

I highly recommend this – it’s only on til 10th March (a week on Sunday) and the tickets are just £14.  If you have a chance to see it, make sure that you do.  Brilliant script (which is available to buy, and I wish I had!) and brilliant performances.  What more could you ask for.

Also, if you book in advance, the George Shillibeer do a special pre and post theatre deal of £10 for two courses – and although a standard pub grub offer, the quality of the food is excellent, so again I would highly recommend…but you can only get the offer if you book!

e17 book clubs – more needed?

February 26, 2013 9 comments

ImageYou might have noticed that I post quite a lot of book reviews.  I also post whether I have read the book as it was chosen as part of our E17 Book Club.  I think that this has provoked quite a lot of publicity for our book club as I have received many requests over the last year or so by people who would like to join.

We are obviously a rather literary lot in Walthamstow!

Turnover of members of our book club is rather low indeed – we ‘allowed’ a couple of newbies in when one member left in September, but the number of people asking to join and being turned away is growing weekly.

There are other Book Clubs that I know of in Walthamstow, one that meets at The Mill, the Reading Group that meets at Walthamstow Library and Forest Book Group who meet in Peking Chef.

I am sure that there are probably others, and if you know of them please do let me know.

However, my point for this post was to suggest that maybe someone sets up another Book Club (or two!) in Walthamstow – there are obviously enough people interested to fill them (we have found that about 10 people at any one meeting is kind of the upper limit…and about 14 on the list tends to get 8-10 each meeting).

I have quite a large number of people ‘in my archives’, so, if anyone wanted to set something up, I would be happy to get back in touch with peopel that had contacted me in the past and asked to be put on our waiting list to see if they would like to join.

So, come on, is someone going to stand up to the mark and say “YES! *I* will start organising a new book club in Walthamstow!”.

(PS – we now have no idea who ‘runs’ our book club…once you get a few meetings out the way, the members kind of look after it as one.)

***UPDATE*** Someone has kindly taken on the mantle of setting up a new book club, which will meet once a month at The Chequers.  Let me know if you would like more details.

Also, as per Jenny’s comment below, there is a book club set up that meets in The Castle once a month!

We really, really are a well-read bunch in E17!

fifty shades of gravy: the cookbook – i m pliant

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Fifty Shades Of Gravy

I was contacted by one of the authors of this little book of delights due to my review of THAT book. (If you hadn’t already guessed, I M Pliant isn’t a real person…shame!)

This is a perfect stocking filler (ooer) or Secret Santa style gift – especially for those women who loved (or hated) THAT book.  In fact, when I showed it to a couple of the guys at work, they wanted to get it for friends.

As with all recipe books, it is split into sections – cocktails, canapes, light bites, big dinners and desserts.  Every single recipe has its own double entendre title. Posh Tart With Crabs, Gently Jerked Pork, Force Meat In The Hole, The Disappointing Chipolata, Game For Anything Pie…the list goes on 🙂

Every recipe also comes with its own description – which is generally highly entertaining…funny rather than erotic (a bit like Fifty Shades of Grey).  For example, within the recipe for “A Quick Hand Shandy” we have a fun tip: “As your Hand Shandy is in the making, daydream about jugs – try and serve up frothy pint’s worth in an old man’s style dimpled ‘jug’ glass or ‘working man’s tankard (sometimes called a ‘Wankard’).”

Many of the recipes themselves, far from being just for fun sound extremely tasty.  I quite fancy the idea of munching on Swollen Purple Bell Ends. Yum!

If I have any crticism at all, I think it would be that it seems to have been put together by blokes as the dessert section seems to be for the puns rather than the dishes which feel a little less inventive and yummy-sounding than the other sections.  But hey, it’s worth it for the laughs.

I thoroughly recommend it – maybe not as a pressie for your mum, but for that mate that loved THAT book and you felt obviously needed more in their life 😉

There are no pictures of the glorious products of these recipes, but then some things really are better left to the imagination. Aren’t they?

afternoon tea, 140 park lane

(Have just realised that this saved into drafts for some reason, so I have only actually published this on 11th November!)

With the purchase of another Groupon voucher, I took my lovely friend for afternoon tea at 140 Park Lane.  I have to admit that I had never heard of the place before, but expected it to be a real treat as, well – it’s in Park Lane, and that’s the second most expensive square on the Monopoly board, isn’t it!

The lounge where afternoon tea was being served is on the ground floor, and was very bright and extremely modern.  The only slight disappointment in the surroundings was that it is on the ground floor, and so unfortunately there isn’t a particularly good view out over Hyde Park, as Park Lane is in fact a very busy road.

The full menu

Our deal included a teapot of cocktails (£34 for two), and we went for the Bruised Apple.  This was really fresh and zingy and light. I really enjoyed it!

Next was a new experience for me with afternoon tea…hot buttered crumpets!  Now I love crumpets, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to see one on an afternoon tea menu!

What’s that doing there?!

I hate to admit it, much as I have a deep-set love of crumpets, I don’t believe that afternoon tea was the right place for it.  You have sandwiches, scones and cakes, as well as any other little pastries, and I think a crumpet was just one stodge too far.  Also, crumpets need to be eaten really hot, with the butter dripping through and oozing onto your plate as far as I’m concerned.  You can’t really do that in a restaurant setting.  So, nice idea, but I don’t really think that it works.  Of course, that’s just a personal opinion!

A tower of yummies

The sandwiches were light and fresh, and featured a different bread for each filling, which is always a favourite quality of mine.

The scones were light and we got one each plain and fruit – there are some places that are a little stingy on their scones, and for some reason only give you 2 or 3 between two people…although I have had my suspicions that this may only be for people on offers.  I can’t prove that though.  If there are two people, there should be two scones!  There wasn’t quite enough cream however, which again is a common issue.  I know that you can ask for more, but we’re English, we don’t like to be any bother, do we?

Cakey goodness!

Finally, it was on to the top tier.  It felt pretty substantial actually.  The fruit cake was fruit cake, but it was a light one, not your standard dark fruit cake with loads of raisins.  It felt more like a light madeira with a bit of glacé fruit in it.  I am not a fruit cake lover, so I ate this first to ‘get it out the way’!

The eclairs were lovely – light choux pastry, filled to bursting with creme patisserie and shrouded in a generous chocolate coating.  The pistachio operas were gorgeous, subtley flavoured with beautiful layers of sponge, cream and with a shiny chocolate top.  The little fruit tartlets were lovely as they actually used chocolate pastry rather than the standard sweet pastry, which gave them a bit of a twist.

My favourite part however, was the unexpected little bowl of lemon posset.  They were a pretty generous portion each, with freeze dried raspberries on the top and had a deep lemon flavour – not too sweet and not too sharp.  Perfect!

All in all, I really enjoyed it, but the surroundings weren’t quite as ‘special’ as I had hoped – the view was a little bit of a let-down and I didn’t really buy-in to the crumpets.  The cakes were great, the cocktail really hit the spot and the scones and sandwiches were fresh and flavoursome.

The Afternoon Tea at 140 Park Lane is usually £23 per person (that doesn’t include cocktails).  I don’t think that’s too bad a price for the quality that you receive!

afternoon tea, waldorf hotel

Homage Grand Salon

As a Christmas present, I said that I would take my ex-mother-in-law (yes, I know) for afternoon tea with me & The Girl sometime, as she has always loved her tales of our cakey exploits.  It took me a LONG time to actually get around to arranging it, but we finally did two weeks ago.

I had managed to get a Groupon voucher for 4 people for afternoon tea (with a glass of Prosecco!) for £58 at The Waldorf Hotel, so my friend came along with us too as part of HER birthday present.  This was the ‘posh’ part and the ‘quirky’ part had been our previous afternoon tea at Drink Shop Do.

To make it a real occasion, we got a cab from me ex-MIL’s in Stoke Newington – which was the most scary, horrible drive I have EVER experienced in my life (apart from a memorable one in Tunisia…) and one that I don’t think any of us was sure we were going to survive!  Thank God it was Sunday traffic, otherwise I think Premier Cars in Church Street would’ve had a major court case on their hands!

Slightly shaken, it was rather lovely to be greeted by a liveried doorman at The Waldorf, and also to be able to be seated ahead of our booked time (the cab was REALLY moving!).The staff couldn’t have been more hospitable.

The Homage Grand Salon at The Waldorf was slightly smaller than I was expecting it to be (we were in an ‘intimate’ corner just off from the photo shown here), but had mirrored walls which made it light and bright, and seemingly larger.  It was completely full too, which was really nice as it definitely adds to the atmosphere, although I have to say, our table was a little cramped and we were unable to fit all of our individual teapots on, and had to have an ‘overflow’ table.

The Girl and my MIL opted to swap their Prosecco’s for juice before me and my mate had considered that we could have nicked theirs and had two each! Doh!  We had both gone for the rosé Prosecco which I have to say was very lovely indeed!

Sandwiches and cakey goodies

The sandwiches arrived and they were very nice.  Soft, yielding bread – obviously made fresh – smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber and cheese, ham and mustard, tomato and cheese  and egg mayonnaise.  We managed to distribute them according to silly people’s foibles 😉

Unfortunately, we then had quite a wait for our tea and scones.  The waiter had said that they only bring the tea once people have finished their sandwiches.

Fluffy scones

We each got a fruit and plain scone and they were excpetionally light and fluffy, although unfortunately the jam and cream servings seemed rather stingy.  I think the problem is that you are given one pot of each – and that seemed to be the same for four as it was for two.  There definitely wasn’t enough of either for all of us – and The Girl doesn’t even eat clotted cream, and I didn’t have jam on one of my scones.  I guess we could have asked for more, but being British, we don;t like to make a fuss 😉

Then onto the cakes.  We cut each one in half so that we all had a try of each cake.  there were two each of a selection of four – a blueberry macaron, a strawberry and cream tartlet, a chocolate and almond meringue type cake and an odd chocolate cone with a blob of jelly on the top.

Yuminess!

The macaron was very nice (but there is only so much you can say about a macaron), the tartlets were exquisite – the pastry was more like shortbread, it was sweet, delicate and very buttery, the chocolate and almond cakes were the ones we were a little dubious of, but turned out to be the best – a chocolate mousse in a soft meringuey ‘sandwich’ and then finally the strange chocolate cone thing.  Finely tempered dark bitter chocolate filled with a berry mousse and then topped with a very sour citrus jelly.  The Girl only liked the inside of her cone, but we managed to polish the whole lot off between us.

It was a lovely afternoon – we didn’t feel at all rushed and had a great chat.  I think The Girl felt very grown-up having girlie time.  It also felt very nice having the doorman hail as a black cab to go back to Stoke Newington – which had a lovely driver and ended up costing less than the death-minicab from Permier Cars!  how does that work!

The Waldorf Sparkling afternoon tea is usually £29.50 per person.  I guess that isn’t too shabby considering it is a very nice Prosecco.  However, don’t go to The Waldorf expecting the exquisite grandeur of The Ritz or Claridges, as it simply isn’t the same league, lovely as it is (but then they are obviously a lot more expensive!).  And don’t be too shy to ask for more cream & jam like we were!

afternoon tea, 1901 at andaz

May 27, 2012 2 comments

The beautiful domed stained-glass ceiling of the restaurant

1901 is just one of the restaurants within the Andaz Hotel at Liverpool Street, set in what used to be its beautiful ballroom when it used to be the Great Eastern Hotel.

To celebrate this being the year of the Diamond Jubilee, the have been serving a series of themed afternoon teas – ‘Tea Fit For A Queen‘.  From February to June they have celebrated a different British Queen each month.  For May, it has been Queen Victoria, also known as ‘Empress of India’ and their traditional afternoon tea has this month been given an Indian twist.

I was lucky enough to find an offer of 2 for 1 and went along with my friend yesterday afternoon.

The setting is actually really impeccable, and it was like a little oasis of cool and calm affter coming in from the muggy heat of London yesterday.

There were a few other parties for tea, which they only actually serve 3pm to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday.  The background music suited the setting, all tinkly and backgroundy, and it was only at one point that I realised one of the tracks was an ‘easy listening’ version of Billie Jean, which amused me.

The waiting staff were fantastic, just the right amount of attention but not intrusion, and everything was definitely relaxed and unrushed.  First of all we were brought our sandwiches and a wonderful glass teapot full of an extraordinarily delicious cocktail – apparently Bombay Sapphire gin shaken with Darjeeling tea, strawberry syrup, cacao, and coffee liquor.

Varioius lightly curried sandwiches and Bombay Sapphire Gin cocktail

The sandwiches were delicious – I have never been a great salmon lover, but it often appears within afternoon tea sandwiches. This lightly curried version though was particularly scrummy – as were the chicken tikka massala open sandwich and the vegetable curry naan.  They were all fresh and full of flavour.

Next came the tea, scones and various cakes and goodies.

A tower of yumminess

I have never been served scones with such a choice of toppings! There was one plain and one fruit scone each with a choice of butter (?!), clotted cream, raspberry jam, strawberry jam and even orange marmalade. I had to have half with butter and orange marmalade just for the novelty value. Very nice, but just not quite right!

Cakes and pastries

The selections of sweet things was fantastic – my favourite kind of offering, lots of little delights to try rather than big slabs of cake.  There was victoria sponge (of course), caramel eclairs, chocolate and hazelnut macaroons, little carrot cake cupcakes with lemon frosting and gorgeous little pastry encased dark chocolate ganache with a flavourful burst of orange gel on top.

Even more yum

There was also chocolate and cocount ice and little samosas filled with mango.

I have to say, everything was absolutely perfect – the setting, the ambience, the service and the food. And of course the company.  I loved it. It is definitely right up there with one of my favourites, and if I got another offer, I would definitely go back again (£45 / head is a bit of a stretch for me, really, although I still think it is definitely worth the experience).

Gorgeous!

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