Photo Sunday: Bloggers’ Tea Party

What do you get if you mix bloggers, tea and cake? A bloggers’ tea party, obviously.

This was an idea suggested a few weeks ago by my friend Safia, who blogs over at My Griffin Way. After thinking about it for approximately three seconds, I agreed it sounded like a good plan, and we set about recruiting two more bloggers to join us. Which took another three seconds. Or maybe four. But either way it wasn’t long before we’d convinced Mandy of Emm in London and Sarah from inspiredtravels71 to come along too.

We decided to go to The Kitchen Door Cafe on Queenstown Road, London – a decision that was in no way influenced by the fact they had an amazing Groupon deal. Honest. And so last Saturday, we braved the miserable weather to head out for our first (and hopefully not last) bloggers’ tea party.

Kitchen Door Cafe, London

The Kitchen Door Cafe is a Canadian themed diner with a really relaxed, homely feel, which, as it turns out, was exactly what owner Goranka Gudelj was going for; her vision was to recreate her home kitchen in a restaurant setting, and share with customers the kind of food she’d serve to her friends and family. And why’s it called the Kitchen Door Cafe? Because Goranka’s brought along the kitchen door from her former home, and displayed it on the back wall; you can still see where her children marked their heights as they grew up. According to the website, the door “serves as a reminder for her that as one door in life closes another opens.”

I really liked the fact that the relaxed, home-made approach was reflected in the food – the scones and finger sandwiches weren’t all perfectly symmetrical, and some slices of cake were (a lot) bigger than others, but that just made it more authentic. And really, when the cake tastes that good, who cares what it looks like? We were a bit disappointed not to get any apple and cinnamon cake after Sarah spotted it on their Twitter feed a few days before, but hey – it’s just an excuse to go back another time, right? (And to be fair, they hadn’t promised us that particular cake; we just thought it looked amazing.)

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Our afternoon tea also included a glass of prosecco each, and a fairly extensive choice of teas, served in very cute teapots that turned out to be half teapot, half teacup. I’m very easily excited, as we know, and I thought this was pretty much the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.

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The staff were really friendly; they didn’t seem to mind that we were the last customers left in the cafe because we were so busy chatting, and they seemed quite happy for us to wander about taking photos of the cool retro decor.

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All in all, it’s safe to say the first bloggers’ tea party was a big success. Time to start planning the next one…?

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Photo Sunday: Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day!

Usually, I’m not a fan of this particular holiday, because as a singleton I always end up feeling either that I should be depressed because I’m not in a relationship, or that I should make some kind of anti-Valentines stand to show how okay I am about it all.

Well, not this year. This year I decided that I was going to enjoy Valentines Day, and rather than sulk because my friends had written on Facebook about what an amazing day they were having, I decided to plan an equally awesome day for myself that I’d be equally happy to brag about. Who knows, maybe some of them will end up being jealous of me 😉

The fun actually started yesterday, when I went to a friend’s house for dinner and games night. She’s an amazing hostess, artist and cook, as evidenced by these beautiful appetisers. (Notice the Ladybird book of dating on the table; we thought it might have some good tips. It didn’t.) It was a lovely evening with good food, good friends and a rather delicious cocktail involving amaretto and apple and elderflower juice.

Appetisers

Then, this morning I took myself for a walk by the river, although not a very long one, because even though it was a sunny day, the wind was icy.

Greenhithe riverside walk

Ingress Abbey, Greenhithe

So I headed home, via the shop, where I picked up some flowers and a red berry candle, which smells amazing. And then I spent most of the afternoon and evening drinking tea and enjoying a Poldark marathon.

Valentines Day

(Because seriously, who needs a boyfriend when you can spend a few hours with this guy?)

Poldark

Oh, and I also made myself a roast dinner, but I don’t have a photo of that, because I was too busy eating it. But it was yummy.

I should also mention that this is day 1 of 28 Days of Love, a free, 28-day (obviously) course run by the ladies at Project Love, who were recently featured in Psychologies magazine. Basically the idea is every day for 28 days, you do something nice for yourself, whether it’s buying yourself flowers, having a lie-in, watching your favourite film or singing in the shower. It sounds awesome, I can’t wait 🙂

There’s still time to sign up for 28 Days of Love; who else fancies spoiling themselves a bit?

Happy Valentines Day! I (genuinely, for once) hope everyone – single or not – had a fantastic day.

Happy Sunday: free brownies and excited pandas

It’s been quite a week. With a big work event and lots of theatre-ing (more in fact than I’d intended at the start of the week), there’s not been a lot of time for anything else, including sleep. But there’s always time for a bit of good news, so here are a few of the nice things that have happened this week, for me and the world in general.

This week:

I got to go to my first ever award ceremony, when my company was shortlisted for an education award. And even though we didn’t win (fortunately we’d all been practising our ‘gracious loser’ faces), we did get Highly Commended in our category, which was rather exciting – and gives us something to aim for next year 🙂

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My sister Caz shared this story on Facebook about a professional photographer who was inspired to see things differently by his daughter Kaja, who has Down Syndrome and is a natural with a camera. The two embarked on a photographic duel, each taking pictures of the same person or place, and the results from both are really beautiful.

There’s nothing quite like making someone smile, and this week I got that warm fuzzy feeling when I arranged a little surprise for a friend who hadn’t been well. Although it was nothing big or special, the delighted message I got from her yesterday totally made my day.

The snow in North America may not be great for everyone, but these Syrian children, recently arrived in Canada, have never seen it before, and their reaction is a joy to watch, as is the way the family have been accepted into their new community in Ontario.

And while we’re talking about snow, check out the excitement of Tian Tian the panda in Washington. Adorable 🙂

This Monday was Blue Monday (or so the papers would have us believe) – supposedly the most depressing day of the year. So cake shop Konditor and Cook decided to spread a little joy by offering free chocolate brownies, and my friend and I made a special trip on the way to work to get them. So it turns out that literally the only thing in the world that will get me out of bed early… is a free brownie. Good to know.

Free brownie

A teenager from Dublin has invented a life-saving sleeping bag for homeless people, lined with fireproof bubble wrap to keep the user dry and with reflective markings to give them high visibility. Now the bags are being made by people who used to be homeless as a way to get them back into work and help those still on the streets.

I really wasn’t looking forward to this week at work, which we knew was going to be busy and stressful… but we got through it by working as a team, there were no major disasters and – most importantly – it’s all over now 🙂

Tennis player Jo Wilfried Tsonga went to the aid of a ball girl during his Australian Open match on Wednesday, pausing the game to go and ask her if she was okay, and then personally escorting her off the court. And then he won, which seemed only fair after being such a gentleman.

I bought a cosy new dressing gown last weekend, and even though I somehow messed up and picked up the wrong size (still no idea how I did that), it turns out having a dressing gown that’s several sizes too big actually just means there’s more to wrap yourself up in!

How was your week?

Happy Sunday: fudge, friends and football

Hope everyone had a great week! As usual, I’ve been keeping an eye out for good news and happy things to share, both from home and away. What good things happened to you this week?

This week:

  • So technically, this happened a little over a week ago, but I’m still very excited, so it’s going on the list… On January 1st, my year got off to an awesome start when I was asked to write a monthly theatre feature in a local magazine. To say I was excited doesn’t really cover it – I can’t wait to get started.
  • Speaking of local, the youngest person on the New Year Honours List is 13-year-old Jonjo Heuerman from Wilmington. Jonjo’s raised over £235,000 for Cancer Research UK, in memory of his nan, who died of bowel cancer, and his football hero, Bobby Moore.
  • My friend Nina had her first article published on Elephant Journal this week. It’s a great piece about how to deal with life’s ups and downs, and well worth a read. And you can read more from Nina on her blog, The Pollyanna Plan – she’s brilliant and one of the most positive people I know.
  • Chris Dempsey from Illinois donated part of his liver to a complete stranger in 2015, after overhearing one of his colleagues talking about Heather Krueger, a family member who needed a transplant to save her life. Chris and Heather got to know each other in the time leading up to the surgery – which was a success – and now they’re engaged.
  • As part of a work project, I randomly decided at the end of last year that I was going to learn Welsh. The idea of the challenge is to learn as much as possible during January using our language app, and although it’s open to anyone, we’re having our own internal competition in the office, which – as of Friday – I’m winning! (I have a feeling when I go in tomorrow I won’t be any more, so I’m making the most of this small victory while I can.)

Welsh uTalk Challenge

  • Last week, commuters on a morning train from Ascot to Waterloo actually enjoyed their journey for once when the conductor posed a fun music quiz, repeating the question each time new passengers got on. Apparently this is quite a regular occurrence on South West Trains – are you listening, Southeastern…?
  • I was feeling a bit grumpy the other day (yes, it does happen – I’m only relentlessly cheerful when blogging) and then my friend Safia produced her latest amazing creation, Super Sinful Oreo Fudge. It’s basically a heart attack on a plate, but if it did kill you, at least you’d die happy. Unfortunately I was too busy eating to take a photo, but you can see Safia’s pictures – and check out how it’s done – on her blog, My Griffin Way.
  • A woman from Sydney, Meg Churches, has become famous for making tiny wraps to protect orphaned baby bats. The idea behind the wrap is that it replicates their mother’s wings, which is crucial for the bats’ survival. Meg’s design goes under the adorable name of Cuddlebatz, and here’s what it looks like in action:
  • Without wanting to bang on about theatre, this week I’ve seen three fantastic shows – New Jersey Nights (a celebration of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford, Grey Gardens at Southwark Playhouse, and a second visit to the hilarious Peter Pan Goes Wrong (the link is to my review from the first visit, when the show was touring – it’s now at the Apollo Theatre in the West End, and still brilliant).

Have a great week! 🙂

Photo Sunday: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you’ve had a fantastic couple of days, wherever and however you spent them. I’ve been with my family, eating, drinking and generally chilling out, which was what I needed after the last-minute Christmas panic. Note to self: next year, try and start the shopping more than a week before…

The festivities began on Thursday at work, when one of my colleagues produced Christmas dinner for us all in our tiny office kitchen. (Yes, she is amazing.) And then continued at my parents’ on Friday, after another delicious Christmas lunch, with miniature bell ringing, racing penguins, the world’s most complicated board game and general family mayhem. Because being a grown-up is extremely boring, and to be avoided whenever possible.

And today I’m back home, eating Christmas leftovers, trying to figure out what day it is (Sunday? Monday? I have no idea), recovering from the trauma of going shopping earlier and enjoying the fact that I don’t have to go back to work till Tuesday.

Now bring on New Year and all the photo opportunities that 2016 has to offer… 🙂