Thursday, December 27


J A N U A R Y // there is a sprinkling of snow, enough to crunch underfoot, not enough to plod in

F E B R U A R Y // I walk along a wintry beach in torrential rain and wind

M A R C H // blossom

A P R I L // a marvellous day trip to Margate

M A Y // I celebrate twenty years of being alive, on a gloriously hot day in the countryside

J U NE // things grow, visitors come and go, the rain begins to fall

J U LY // everybody waves flags, or shelters underneath them when it rains

A U G U S T // a return to a favourite piece of coastline

S E P T E M B E R // blackberryin'

O C T O B E R // I walk the streets of my early childhood

N O V E M B E R // leaves turn the bright golden yellow of an extra-beautiful autumn

D E C E M B E R // the first frosts arrive and chai tea becomes a daily habit

(post inspired by Marguerite Gisele)

Tuesday, December 18

Christmas star biscuits

I have been bad at blogging again... mainly due to being tired from work and Christmas festivities... I have been on late autumn walks, Christmas shopping trips, seen Florence + the Machine at the O2 (amazing), gone on the Harry Potter studio tour, been ice skating, spent time with family and gone rummaging in antique shops. I've also painted decorations for 150 mini Christmas cakes at work which has probably killed any excitement for our own Christmas cake this year. I am loving the time of year though. I'm sitting in the living room with tree lights and candles for company, and there's so much good food in the fridge already. Happy!

I was recently commissioned to make a lot of biscuits (200!) to be put in jars and given as Christmas gifts. This was my second large-scale baking commission so I was slightly more adept at coping with the amounts. Baking on a big scale requires you to consider so many things you normally don't think about - like how much biscuit mix the food mixer can handle, and what to do when you run out of wire racks...

These biscuits are really very nice. I used a recipe for shortbread, so you get that lovely crumbly texture, but I substituted some of the flour for ground almonds. This gives the biscuits a bit more of a moist, melt-in-the-mouth constitency and provides greater depth of flavour. Basically: even more tasty.

Also: you must use butter. Not baking margarine. Butter tastes so much better.

Scroll down for the recipe...


To make the biscuits:

60g golden caster sugar
120g unsalted butter
1 tsp almond extract
125g plain flour
50g ground almonds

Cream together the sugar, butter and extract.
Sift over the flour, pour in the ground almonds and mix until a dough is formed.
Shape into a disc, wrap and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan 160).
Roll out the dough to 5mm thickness on a flour dusted surface, and cut out small stars.
Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 mins until golden around the edges.

Warning: I am not responsible for how much biscuit dough you consume during this process. Or for how many 'testers' you feel obliged to taste. Not mentioning the stars that may have unfortunately lost their limbs in the oven...

Once the biscuits had cooled I wrapped them in cellophane, put them in Kilner jars, added some ribbon, gingham bows and homemade labels (decorated with sections of doilies) and voila! Easy peasy Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, November 27

Leaves, life

These photos were taken on a Sunday walk a couple of weeks ago, before the rain and floods came. Those trees are wading in a big soggy lake now. All the leaves on the ground have turned to mush and any that were left on the trees have been blown away by the filthy weather. So autumn is all but over. I'm trying to resign myself to the prospect of four months of cold toes, chapped lips, uncoordinated knitwear, and stumbling through the short days from one hot cuppa to another. Oh, winter.

But at least there are Christmas festivities to look forward to.

On an unrelated topic, I was reading the blog of photographer and student Helena the other day and found myself enthusiastically nodding along to one of her posts, where she was talking about what to do when you want to do it all. She said:

"I would like to be a writer. But of course I would like to stay a photographer as well. So I would like to do both.
And then I would also like to be a designer, too, please.
Can we have it all? Can we do it all? Can we gain all the skills?"

Like Helena, I would love to be a photographer & writer, as well as venture into art and graphic design (oh and set design, motion and animation, illustration, to name but a few...), but also like Helena I'm worried about spreading myself too thin. I still haven't gone to university, because I have too many interests. I've figured out that the smartest thing to do would be an art foundation year of sorts, then I can make a more informed decision and pick one thing. Helena sums it up well when she says, "I don’t want to end up as a ridiculous do-it-all person, and actually do nothing because it all sucks. I want to be good at one thing. Or maybe two. And then be really good at this."

It's good to have lots of interests but not so good to try and do it all. I want to be able to work really hard at one thing and do well in it, so that it can become the thing that earns me my bread and coffee, and gets me up in the morning. It doesn't mean I can't continue my writing, photography, illustration, on the side  - and if there's anything in them, and anything ever comes of them, then that'll be jolly nice too.  

Tuesday, November 13

Autumn days & Newcastle

I've been trying to make the most of autumn. It's a season that always seems to slip past so quickly and suddenly you're thinking about Christmas before the colours have even turned. I want to slow down and savour everything - the yellows, reds, golds, the constant soft rain of leaves, leaves in the air, leaves underfoot. The scent of crisp blue mornings and misty purple evenings. Autumn feels extra beautiful this year, I'm not sure whether it's because we were deprived of a nice summer, or we've just been lucky, but there've been some absolutely lovely days and the best mix of sunshine and frost.

I've been watching the trees change on sunny morning runs, I've been going for dusky walks, cooking and eating butternut squash, reinstating the evening hot chocolate habit. I've been to parks and gardens, I've found the perfect orange leaves in Kew. I've had coffees and soups and stews. I've walked around parts of London, gone to an art exhibition, taken a lot of photographs.

Below are some photos from a brief trip to Newcastle to visit my friend at uni, where the woolly jumpers came out and a lot of cappuccinos were consumed. The first few are of Jesmond Dene, a pretty area just outside of the city centre with lots of trees, a river and a little petting zoo! The rest are of Newcastle's moody architecture and its huge, impressive bridges.

Thursday, October 25

The Medicine Garden, Cobham

On a sunny day in September I visited a little place called the Medicine Garden, tucked away in Cobham, Surrey. Once a Victorian walled garden, it's now open to all those who appreciate a spot of tea, a wodge of cake, a mosey and a shop. There's a lovely cafe located in the old hothouse, which serves lunches and tempting afternoon teas. In the courtyard behind the main garden a cluster of independent shops, businesses and art galleries make for an interesting wander about. We had a really relaxing afternoon here and I loved the look of the place - the sharp brickwork, sail white shades, green grass and lavender. It's a truly beautiful find - photogenic opportunities galore.