Sunday, January 30


In the last few months I've developed a bit of an interest in gardening - inspired by a few people, including, of course, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage garden!
One day I'd love to have my own beautiful garden, complete with a vegetable patch, lush lawn, red brick walls and huge slightly wild flowers. Until then I've contented myself with a small vegetable patch in our small suburban garden. Like Hugh, I always want to be as self-sufficient as I can.
Back in the autumn I pulled up a giant ghastly red hot poker plant and an oversized rosemary bush to make way for a raised bed, which my dad had built out of old scraps of wood. I prepared the ground by adding extra soil and fertiliser. Then there was nothing else to do but wait until spring (and pilfer my mum's gardening handbook for a bit of light bedtime reading).
Yesterday I went outside to investigate the effects of winter on my vegetable patch so far. With spring only a couple of months around the corner, I need to start planning what fruit & veg yums to plant..


A lot of weeding definitely needs to be done...
What fruit and veg do you think I should grow? I'm currently thinking courgettes and tomatoes...what else?
I will probably keep documenting the progress of my vegetable patch on this blog, so you can watch it change through the seasons and see how much of a success (or failure) the crop turns out to be.

There was also a small sign that spring is on the way...

Today the weather was sunny and gorgeous, adding to that spring feeling. Sunny days feel so rare in winter, so of course I just had to take my camera for a walk this afternoon. I wore my mum's red gilet (a bargain thrift from charity shopping earlier in the week!)


Monday, January 24

the Everyman Cinema Club

"Roman Polanski once remarked that Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theatre. So where can you enjoy a cinematic experience, where you can enjoy cupcakes and chocolate raisins or swap your soft drink for a nice glass of red wine, and where the cinema almost feels like a home from home? This is where Everyman steps in."

A better class of cinema

Last Saturday I went to see The King's Speech at a branch of The Everyman Cinema Club, my favourite cinema chain. Forget the sticky seats and popcorn carpeted floors of the cinema giants like Odeon and Vue - Everyman is where you can really enjoy a film.

I always prefer smaller chains to big ones. They're more personal, and you usually get better value for money. At my local Odeon I fork out around £9 for a ticket only to sit in a huge, usually mostly empty, cinema with a tub of overpriced stale popcorn and a fizzy drink I don't really want. There's no community vibe, no sense of people in the same room appreciating a good film together. You just feel like a mug handing over a lot of money to a corporation who's rubbing its hands with glee.

The feeling at an Everyman cinema is different. My local branch is small, but you don't get irritated by the foyer bustling full of people because there is a general air of friendliness and fun. 1940s swing music hums along in the background as you purchase your tickets and make your way to a coffee bar. Here, as well as your typical popcorn and sweets, they offer hot chocolate or a glass of wine, which you're allowed to drink during the movie. Heavenly!
And considering the Everyman is a more 'arty' London chain, nothing is overpriced. My ticket cost £8 which is cheaper than going to the Odeon. Let's just say the Odeon have lost one of their customers!

The screen itself is smaller than usual (at my local branch at least) which may bother some, although it doesn't trouble me in the slightest. Good cinematography is good cinematography whatever the size of the screen. The seats are super comfortable, too - soft cushioned velvet - and if you're lucky enough to visit the Everyman Hampstead you take your pick of pink squashy sofas instead!

The best thing about the Everyman though, even after the swing music and hot chocolate and velvet seats, is the atmosphere. I don't know whether it's just the kind of audience they attract, but you get the feeling that people there - staff included - really appreciate their film. There's no irritating whispering, loud children or constant sweet rustling. Often, the audience clap at the end - a small touch I love.

So if you live in the London area, or happen to be visiting, and want to go to the movies - think Everyman! You won't want to leave!
Visit their website here.

Sunday, January 23

bright Brighton and the Great British Seaside Holiday

Last week I enjoyed a small trip to Brighton to visit some of my friends at university. I had a lovely few days catching up with them, scoffing chocolate in front of Bridget Jones, playing Scrabble (yes!), hitting the Brighton night-life and taking a stroll along the sea-front. The weather was glorious; crisp, cold, bright and sunny.

Being somebody who is usually found glued to the viewfinder of my camera, of course I took a few snaps.

Whilst walking around I realised how much I love all the seaside signage:


Aren't they just gorgeous? So colourful! They remind me of the good old-fashioned British seaside holiday - picnics, bracing swims, sandcastles, ice creams, donkey rides, Punch & Judy, piers, funfairs, those stripy swimsuits...

In fact, whilst a west-country beach might not feel like sunkissed California or a Hawaian paradise much of the time, some of my best childhood summer holidays have been spent exploring rockpools, playing beach boules and paddling along the Devon and Cornwall coastline.

Nickeh Smith
In these economic times I think there will be an increase in the number of people who decide to take a holiday in the British Isles instead of jetting off elsewhere. And this choice doesn't have to be thought of as second-best. Sure, we all dream of travelling the world and seeing the sights - my Wanderlust Wednesday feature is a huge example of that - but it doesn't mean we should go abroad every year. Britain's full of stunning coastal places that deserve to be stayed in and enjoyed - you only have to have a short browse here for proof. From the unspoilt windy romance of the Scottish highlands to the Cornish surfer havens, and everywhere in between - there's just so much to see.

I hope more people start to realise that there is beauty and fun to be had at home, too. So here's to the Great British Seaside Holiday!

Friday, January 21

Recipe: Kate's Chocolate Brownie-Panforte!

I had some dried fruit and nuts left over from the traditional panforte I made at Christmas. Wanting to use them up, I decided to make another panforte that was less festive, but still gluttonously gorgeous.
By adding more flour and cocoa powder this recipe has a distinctly brownie-like texture, the dried fruit & nuts giving it that extra bite. It went down a treat in my household and a small slice is perfect with a cup of coffee. Yum!

Butter (for greasing)
120g dried figs
80g dried apricots
(you can swap the figs and apricots around with dried fruit of your choice, e.g. dates, but stick to more than one kind - also I wouldn't recommend using raisins/sultanas!)
60g candied peel
160g nuts of your choice (I used a mix of blanched almonds, blanched hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios)
100g plain flour
Small tsp baking powder
55g cocoa powder
1.5 tsp mixed spice (or a mix of your choice - cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc, are all good
2 large eggs
You will also need: a 23cm springform baking tin

1. Grease the bottom and sides of your baking tin. Line with baking paper, then grease again on top of that.

2. Weigh out your mixture of nuts then chop them up a little. It's up to you how 'chunky' you want the pieces of nut to be - I opted for medium sized chunks.

3. Weigh out then chop up your dried fruit - again, it's up to you how big the pieces are.

4.  Mix the fruit and nuts together, along with the candied peel.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they are pale and billowy.

6. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and spice.

7. Mix well - you'll get a runny mixture that looks a bit like this:

8. Stir in the fruit and nut mixture.

9. Dollop this mixture into your baking tin and level the top.

10. Bake for 50 mins at 150 degrees celsius. Once cool, remove from tin.

11. Heavily dust with icing sugar. Then: devour!

Hope you enjoy this recipe, and if you use it, let me know how it turns out! x

Friday, January 14

Thoughts on... Memory

We're lucky we have the capacity to remember as much as we can. But doesn't it ever scare you to think that the older we get, the more we'll forget? I don't mean general old-age forgetfulness/senility, just that our brains can't store every single detail from our lives. As our age increases, some things will naturally fade from the dusty recesses of our minds. I've already forgotten a lot of what it meant to be six, for example. And one day I won't remember what it was like to be eighteen.

It's like when you wake up from a vivid dream, and as you try and piece it back together, the memory of it slips like grains of sand through your hands until it's completely disappeared.

Thinking about this makes me doubly sad for anybody who has had any kind of experience with Alzheimer's disease. It must be very hard when somebody you love forgets who you are :(

Memories can trick us, tempt us, teach us, make us smile, make us sad... they're incredibly valuable. I remember reading about the possibility of a drug that removes bad memories from the mind. Reams could be written on the ethical implications of this drug (is it taking things too far, would it be beneficial for post traumatic stress disorder sufferers, etc...) but I'm fairly sure I would never want it. What about you? Would you ever consider taking such a pill?

Anyway, enough of this seriousness. I updated my Deviant Art with some of my old GCSE art work (including something I painted when I was a wee 8 year old). take a look!
Check out my Flickr and too, and feel free to add me. I always like making new friends :)

Currently listening to this song on repeat - it reminds me of summer (and makes me long for it). Mild wet boring Januarys should not be allowed!

This has been a bit of a sentimental and sombre post. guess it's just one of those kinda days!
 All photos © Kate M

Sunday, January 9

Deceitful sunshine

all photos © Kate M
These are just some photos I took on a quick walk yesterday by the river as the sun was beginning to set. We've enjoyed some gorgeous sunshine this weekend. Sadly the blue skies are tricking us with their promise of spring. Just another 12 weeks of cold to endure...
The two main good things about winter, snow and Christmas, have already happened so now I'm longing for summer. My itunes keeps spewing out summery songs, the SS11 fashions are starting to come out of the woodwork, it's that sad blue time after Christmas...all this combined with the crazy sunshine means I feel like I'm a heartbeat away from emigrating to a warmer climate. Who else is feeling the same? If anybody has a spare ticket to Australia or somewhere, they know where to find me!

Friday, January 7

Small changes

Yesterday it bucketed it down all day, fat cold & almost snowy raindrops. I just wanted to take shelter at home, so I decided to tackle the first thing on my 2011 list, and rearranged my bedroom.
This involved lots of banging, scraping, manoeuvring, shuffling and swearing (lord knows what the neighbours thought I was up to) plus a heck of a lot of dust to hoover up. But as sad as it may be, I love doing things like this... I'll get my coat.

So I've now made room for the new telly I've decided to purchase. We are a household of many and often differing tastes (football vs River Cottage vs my dad's obsession with Nazi war programmes), and I'm tired of battling over the TV schedule. At last I'll be able to watch my dramas, cookery programmes, and geeky BBC4 docs without causing WWIII!
Anyway, almost breaking my back heaving a huge bookshelf over stubborn uneven floorboards was worth it. My room feels so much bigger and I have to admit it was quite fun waking up in a slightly different place.

Photos © Kate M 

It sounds mental, but even small changes like reorganising your furniture can be surprisingly rejuvenating!

P.S. A big thank you to Gem for mentioning me on her blog and an even bigger hello to my followers. Everyone I've come across on the blogosphere so far seems absolutely lovely and I love reading your comments. In the next few days I'll post about some of my current favourite blogs/posts for you to explore! x