Sunday, September 25, 2011

Run to the Beat of my Biscuits

Maritime Museum, Greenwich 

In case you didn't know.. 

This weekend I watched my best mates boyfriend, J-Man Jizzle* complete an amazing achievement - he ran the Nike Run to the Beat half marathon and we are all very very proud of him.

(*Not actual name. Name that I call him. Largely against his will)

He's training to run the London Marathon next year, and this race signifies the furthest he's ever ran so it's a huge deal.

Cheerleaders (although I think I was better AND I didn't have balloons!) 

Arms outstretched, J-Man at the 11 mile mark, only two to go! 

However, the day was not without its drama. The day was lovely and sunny, but we think the heat got to him because 150m before the end of the race, J started to slow and come to a stop. Even the encouraging screams from two old lady spectators couldn't help him. A random man (we're not sure whether it was a fellow competitor, a marshall or a member of the crowd) came to help him over the final finish line, before poor old J collapsed from heatstroke/exhaustion and had to be taken to the medical tent.

He is now fine, just needs to rest up and get lots of fluids, but it just goes to show what a huge effort it is to complete these things and how amazing it is that he crossed the line. I'm so impressed. Props. Massive props.

Greenwich Observatory, obvs

Love the smell of biscuits in the morning

Other than that dramz at the end of the race, the rest of the morning had been really fun. There's always a great atmosphere at these events - I'm a natural cheerleader of life in general, so I love that it's socially acceptable on such occasions to scream COME ON ALEXXXXX!!! in random stranger's faces. Not that I do that at any other time, OF COURSE.

I'd baked some Apple & Oatmeal cookies for our group to eat whilst we were waiting for J to appear at our vantage point at the foot of Greenwich Park, and they were just the ticket for a sunny autumnal mid-morning snack.


Of course I gave the majority of the cookies to J and his girlfriend (not that he could appreciate them at that point in his poorly state), but I kept a select few back for me. And they were just the ticket to soothe my aching hands (from clapping) and scratchy throat (from aforementioned stranger-face-screaming). I mean, really I worked JUST AS HARD. Right?!

No, I know: not right. I joke.

Well done J-Man Jizzle, Jam Master Jay. SO PROUD.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friends With Benefits


Before anyone gets excited - not thooose kinds of benefits.

I've just come back from a delightful weekend in Brighton. I have a friend who has just moved to a gorgeous flat moments from the seafront (and also, Preston from Big Brother fame, apparently *sounds shit celeb spot klaxon*) and a bunch of us went down to visit. They are all friends that I met as we all did the same New York exchange programme and I love it when we all get together. It usually involves good food, good drink and good chat. Including but not limited to X Factor contestants and Youtube video analysis. Don't judge. You know you do it too.

Halloumi and houmous. Never have two finer 'H's been stuck in a sandwich

We started with lunch straight off the train at a great place, Bill's. It was a wicked weekend brunch spot, popular with the crowds, so a bit of a wait - but very worth it. Set up in a former greengrocers, the decor played off of the industrial functional feel of the building. Food was good honest well-sourced ingredients and I can confirm, they give good hollandaise. What more do you want in a brunch purveyor?

A girl keg! 

Then later, it was some kick-ass food back at the flat in front of X Factor. We cracked out the housewarming gift of a vintage medicinal-esque drinks dispenser with a cocktail recipe invented on the hoof (i.e. we had gin and they only stocked appletizer at the local shop - was pleasantly delicious).

NYC corner. Every home should have one. 

This concoction accompanied the brilliant menu of Pulled Pork Tacos, Avocado and Onion Salad and Crunchy 'Slaw. All Martha inspired and all finger-lickin good. I've gotta have these girls over for dinner soon and I can safely report the bar has been set high.


This was all devoured in front the X Factor and swiftly segued into feeding our (HEALTHY) appreciation of various divas on YouTube. Celine, Whitney and Mariah. In any order. 

I literally want nothing more of a Saturday. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Faith Hope & Charity


First off, can I just apologise profusely at the poor quality of these photos. I originally took my beloved SLR with me to document my day, which lasted approximately 30 seconds until the red flashing low battery symbol of impending camera-less doom entered my life. What an amateur.

So I was stuck with my trusty iPhone which has very recently acquired an obscene amount of scratches on the lens protector. So the photos come out all smudgy. I mean I guess I GUESS I could have tried to dupe you all into it being some Hipstamatic effect to make the photos more "arty"/"scene"/"whatever" but y'all would have seen straight through that. So instead you'll have to make do with my grovelling apologies.

Victorian Crypt Roof 

So what is all this? Where have I been? What are the smudges obscuring from your eyes? I know. Sit down, take a load off and I'll begin.

Yesterday I decided to venture up the long steep winding hill to Highgate Cemetery. Highgate has a fascinating history, but is probably most famous for being the final resting place of Karl Marx. The Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust run daily tours of the west side of the cemetery.

Marble sleeping lion, marking the grave of George Wombwell, a famed Victorian menagerie exhibitor 

The first thing to note about Highgate is that it is so beautiful and peaceful. In the past, cemeteries have always kind of creeped me out - all those regimented rows of stone markers often under the shadow of a foreboding church. But Highgate is a romantic woodland, almost a fairytale environment. That sounds a strange thing to say, but it's an enchanting place, and I didn't feel at all uneasy. The tour guide we had explained, interestingly, that it hasn't always been like that. When Highgate first began, everything was very austerely manicured - but over time more and more trees have been planted, ivy has overgrown and nature has taken over.

Final resting place of Tom Sayers, a renowned Victorian bare knuckle fighter, with a marble carving of his trusty dog, Lion 

Our guide pointed out a handful of the noted examples of the thousands of graves at Highgate. Some of the most beautiful I tried (badly - again SO SORRY for the smudges) to photograph. There was the grave of the famous Victorian menagerie exhibitor George Wombwell. He famously owned a lion, called Nero, who was apparently so placid, children could ride on his back without fear. His tomb has a huge carving of a sleeping Nero on top.

I also thought the grave of a famous Victorian bare knuckle fighter, Tom Sayers, was particularly poignant. It had a marble carving of his dog, Lion, who went everywhere with him and was (get this) chief mourner at his funeral. He died a hero due to a famous fight with an American champion of the day which was so long and so bloody that it had to be called off and declared a draw as neither would quit, and Lion is depicted sleeping at the foot of his tomb. I'm a sucker for anything to do with dogs, so this stuck out in my mind.

Sleeping angel carved out of marble

This final tomb, you can just about make out in the terrible terrible photo (AWFUL) the form of a sleeping angel. This is unusual - normally the angels are carved so that they are standing over the graves. This angel has been carved sleeping on a cloud. You can't really tell from my photo, but it's very intricate and very beautiful.

There's an awful lot of history at Highgate, as it's been a working cemetery since 1839. If you've never been and are into that kind of thing it's a really interesting way to spend an afternoon. The ivy and overgrowth that make it so special are also unfortunately destroying the tombstones - the Friends of Highgate have a painstaking ongoing programme of work carried out by volunteers to restore those badly in need of repair and the main source of income for this comes from donations and tour fees. So please do go and visit.

And take better photos than me.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Tea and Cake

Tea, cake, flowers. Win. 

Haven't baked any cakes for a couple of months (and my waistline has not just thanked me but rejoiced, holding a party in my honour, because of it). But fear not waistline - I am giving most (save half of one cake - yes, saintlike I know) of this batch away to OTHER PEOPLE. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

 Behind the scenes trivia: Noone actually drunk that cup of tea. It was for show only. I'M SUCH A FRAUD.

I've been wanting to try out the Hummingbird Earl Grey Tea Cupcake recipe for a while. And what with this being the last weekend we can really get away with feeling summery until next year (its knits, tights, bundling up warm, and cold extremities from now until March people!), and I feel the subtle light flavouring is more suited to warmer days, I decided to have a bash at these now, before it's too late and all I crave in a cupcake are cinammon, ginger and big bold Christmassy tastes.

Now, disclaimer: I don't actually LIKE tea. I know, I know. But I'm much more of a coffee girl, what can I say - slave to the bean.'s part of the reason why New York was such a good idea for me. They, like I, live off the stuff.

Behind the scenes trivia: The cakes got eaten though. Not by me you understand. Nope.

Having said that, I am living proof that you don't have to like tea (let alone Earl Grey tea) to love these cakes.

The Earl Grey flavour (lemony, bergamoty, tea-y(?)) is really subtle, light and refreshing and just seems to go so well with the plain sponge and butter frosting.

Just the ticket for the last summer Sunday afternoon. (When it rained. Predictably).