Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why Amy Winehouse Was So Frigging Brilliant

Bye Bye Winehouse (Photo credit)

It's been just over a week now since the news broke of Amy Winehouse's death in her beloved Camden residence. As of yet, we still don't know the exact hows and whys, but one thing will remain true regardless. It was a tragic end to the troubled life of one of this countries best talents of recent years.

Like undoubtedly many others I've spent a lot of time this week revisiting the pinnacle of her career, the Back To Black album. The album was released in the autumn of 2006. I was entering my third year at uni, and I had just had the worst summer of my life. I'd had my first (and only) bitter taste of heartbreak after a messy breakup with my first serious boyfriend of three years.

I just remember this album being around, and Winehouse had tapped in to the pure unadulterated despair of a broken heart. This girl knew those dark thoughts that swirl around the minds of the jilted, knew the self-destructive pain of rejection. You don't want me, I'm a mess, noone will want me, I become the mess and the vicious circle keeps spinning in a horrible self-fulfilling prophecy. This album was amongst the soundtrack of that time for me, and as often happens with great music, somehow listening to it made me feel that I was not alone. It helped me to start feeling better.

I watched a documentary the other night on Amy's life and I can't remember what channel it was on but it talked about her entrance essay for stage school at 12 or 13 where she wrote that her ambition was for people to hear her voice and just forget their troubles. Well, she certainly did that for so many people myself included, and it is just the saddest saddest thing that she was not able to do that for herself.

She clearly led a troubled existence towards the end of her life, living out some truely awful scenes in the public eye, both on stage and off.

But I'll always remember her for her raw special talent and her ability to sing with her broken heart on her sleeve and make magic. She had her issues, but when she had it together she was so frigging brilliant.

And I hope that's how she'll keep being remembered.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wedding Details

Sugar flowers handmade by the bride herself - better than any cake I could make! 

I love weddings. Even if I don't really know the betrothed couple that well, there's something about sharing that special day with them that gets me all teary eyed. It will become part of their history and story as people, and you are contributing in some small way to the narrative of their lives, to tales that they will tell for generations. Its a privilege.

Last weekend I attended the wedding of a good friend of mine from uni - there was a big group of us that all lived together for the first two years of uni. She's an absolute diamond of a girl, and we are all super super happy for her that she's getting married, to a really sweet guy (who ticks pretty much all the boxes of her list of essential husband qualities she made in our first year!!) so it was a real 'meant-to-be' day. This appeals to all my Disney-influenced romantic tendencies!

Party favour

There are certain moments in a wedding that I always enjoy as they tend to happen at pretty much every one you go to - the moment when the bride makes her entrance, and the look on the grooms face, the first kiss as a married couple and father of the bride speech to name but a few.

But the best bit of weddings is seeing all the little details that make it unique and special and completely 'their' day.

Barn chic 

Last weekend there were so many of these. The vintage car that they drove from the church in. The wedding cake that was decorated with a huge cluster of hand crafted sugar flowers, made by the bride no less! The beautiful barn adorned with fairy lights, bunting and flowers in the middle of the Dorset countryside that hosted the reception. The exhausting but damn hilarious ceilidh. The mismatched crockery that held the afternoon tea - of course the wedding breakfast would be afternoon tea! The bride is famed for her tea obsession. The tables were all named after different teas, and even the party favours were a selection of gourmet teas.

 Vintage crockery

It was completely and utterly their day, and so beautiful.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dorset Days

Lulworth Cove. Pirate-friendly.

I've been on a trip back to the homeland this week. The homeland being Dorset, where I was not born, but certainly bred.

I go back to Bournemouth quite a lot to see my family, but this week I had an EXTRA reason to make the trip down south.

One of my lovely friends from uni is getting married in a couple of weeks, and held a somewhat unusual hen festivity. Kayaking around Lulworth Cove! I would literally expect nothing less from the former treasurer of Exeter University Canoe Club.

You might think thats a little dinghy. It's not. It's a pirate ship. 

Having never kayaked before I was convinced I would be the first to capsize, but actually nothing of the sort happened and I actually really enjoyed it! As you can see the weather was super gorgeous, and the water really was that blue.

All in all, I highly recommend kayaking - the only downside is the enforced wetsuit situation. The less said about that the better. There's a reason there's no photos of me ACTUALLY kayaking.

Sip, savour & quaff

It was also my beautiful (see above) sister's birthday yesterday - and whilst most of the day did not go as planned (long story involving an ambulance *alarmed and concerned face* and various minor health complaints amongst various family members *bewildered and sad face* and a broken cake *MASSIVELY FUCKING ANGRY FACE*) we did have a brief moment of calm at our latest Bournemouth eaterie obsession - The Larderhouse.

Artisan coffee station - with added plastic bag on table ambience (apols)

The Larderhouse's shtick is fresh local ingredients (check), with seasonal menus (check) and a heavy emphasis on really frigging awesome coffee (check, check, a thousand times check). I mean, what the heezy is not to love!? 

It was really warm yesterday and I was all hot and bothered from all the DRAMZ so didn't have a coffee this time, but they do that lovely pattern thing in the cappuccino foam which I will get a picture of one day!

Mushroom & chorizo tart - FIT

Food-wise the daily-changing menu is normally short but all the choices almost always all sound delicious - so never an issue with finding something good! I went for the mushroom & chorizo tart as I have had a massive craving for chorizo lately. I love charcuterie, so sue me. It was lovely, creamy yet salty and all round lip-smackingly good.

 Ginger beer - beverage of kings

It's a great place for brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks - a local gem that I intend to reward with my trade as much as I can when I go back to visit the rental units. And by 'as much as I can' I OF COURSE mean that I intend to take up residence.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Yes. More Cakes.


This week was a triumvirate of cake-worthy events. Someone was leaving work, someone else at work was celebrating a birthday, and it was also the final week of Wimbledon.

In honor of all three I had a go at the Strawberry Cheesecake Hummingbird cupcakes following the success of last weeks chocolate variety.

Yummy biscuity topping

These cakes are a bit different because they have chopped fresh strawberries on the bottom, which are baked with the plain cake batter on top. This means the strawberries go all soft and jammy at the bottom. They are then topped with cream cheese frosting and crumbled digestive biscuits.

So a bit like an inverted strawberry cheesecake with added cake sponge. All in all - the bomb diggy.

From punnet to cake tin

The sunny weather we've had this week along with the tennis fever that has swept my house (Poor Murray *sniff*) has made this the perfect accompaniment to the long hot tennis-watching evenings.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off seeing the Foo Fighters LIVE tonight and am at this very moment right in the thick of the crowd, off my face on excitement. I can't stress this too strongly - I am currently breathing the very same air as Dave Grohl.

Who knows whether I'll ever be able to rejoin normal life again?