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…?

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: weird noises, rapping bridesmaids… and a kitten called Bum

Greetings from a wet and windy Kent! I’m very happy to be at home, in the warm, while outside it’s blowing a gale and pouring with rain. I hope, wherever you’re reading this, that you’re warm and dry too.

Anyway, here are a few of the things that made me smile over the past couple of weeks. Ironically, I started writing this post whilst watching War and Peace, which made me cry like a baby… but it’s over now so back to the good stuff 🙂

This week:

  • After waiting (im)patiently for a few weeks, I finally got my copy of the February issue of Dartford Living, which this month, for the first time, includes my local theatre round-up. (No, I haven’t stopped being excited about that yet.)

Dartford Living

  • A bus driver in Nottingham took a detour from his route to take home an elderly lady with dementia. Mark Feurtado, whose mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007, was concerned when the lady didn’t get off his bus at the end of the line, and made a special trip to make sure she got home safely.
  • I finally discovered the source of the strange noise in my building – a sort of scraping, banging noise that’s very hard to describe, and which I’d heard a few times over the past few weeks. It turns out it isn’t, in fact, the building falling down, or – as some of my Twitter friends suggested – a serial killer roaming the halls (thanks for that, guys). It’s just the door of the meter cupboard on the outside wall blowing about in the wind, which is a lot less interesting, but also less terrifying, so I’m taking that as a win.
  • In Alberta, Canada, Maggie the dog escaped from her kennel at Barkers Dog Motel in the middle of the night, to cuddle with two rescue puppies who’d just arrived.
  • My friend, who’s getting married in May, posted this video on Facebook earlier today with the suggestion that her sister and I should do something similar at her wedding. Funnily enough, I don’t see that happening… It’s a great video though 🙂
  • A mother and daughter from New York have been reunited after 82 years: Lena Pierce was only thirteen when she had her baby, who was adopted at six months. Betty Morrell’s been searching for her mother for 20 years and the two finally had an emotional reunion last month.
  • Last weekend I finally had time for a bit of a clear-out at home; I hate actually doing the clearing, but love it when it’s done and I can see my floor again. And I even got around to buying a box for all my theatre programmes, which is, er, already full…

Theatre box

  • This kitten called Bum is so cute I want to cry.
  • I completed my Welsh challenge – after only a few hours spent on it last weekend… (Now I just need some Welsh people to talk to – any volunteers?!) Next I’m learning Scottish Gaelic, because why not? Feasgar math!

How was your week?

January challenge: learn Welsh

I think I might have mentioned that this month I’ve been learning Welsh. I didn’t have any particular reason for this, except that we were doing a work challenge to learn a new language in January, and Welsh seemed like it would be fun.

It didn’t take long to realise I might have bitten off more than I could chew; I’ve never tried to speak a language with hardly any vowels before. But not being one to back down from a challenge, I kept going and soon started to enjoy myself. (The word for ‘please’ – ‘os gwelwch yn dda’ – is particularly addictive once you get the hang of it.) And, much like with German last year, one of the phrases that particularly sticks in my head is one I hope never to have to use:

My wallet has been stolen in Welsh

Then my colleague Nat suggested we attempt Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. In Welsh. On camera. And in a moment of madness, I agreed – even though when we did the translation, we realised the Welsh version had too many syllables.

So here it is, and I’m not going to lie; I’m feeling pretty proud. Not just because it’s in Welsh, but because I don’t usually sing in front of people, let alone on camera. And sure, we had to do a few takes (mostly because I kept getting the giggles; poor Nat had to be very patient with me), but we got there in the end.

My February challenge is going to be to get better at dealing with mornings. I haven’t quite figured out how I quantify this yet, though – I’ll let you know when I work it out…

Did anyone else take on a new year challenge? How did it go?

 

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?