Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Breaking Bread

Today I took my first journey into properly making home-made bread, ie. not using the just-add-water mixes that you can get in Tesco. G has a bread maker, and had suggested using that, but I wanted to really make it by hand and learn to get it right on my own steam.

So, I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, my sundried tomato and onion bread!

I followed a basic recipe that I found online at 
and also utilised the professional fountain of knowledge known as my head chef boyfriend.
After the initial proving, we punched the bread twice to remove the air, or bite back. I then transferred the dough to a bread tin (with some leftover to make some rolls) and left it to prove for another hour before baking. For the added flavours, I used half a white onion and 3 sundried tomatoes.

For my first attempt, I'm incredibly impressed with myself. The loaf has risen nicely, has a good crust, and tastes delicious. Is something I will definitely continue with, and when I'm a bit busier with university and such, I shall learn how to use the bread maker.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Getting My Craft On

Due to being pretty immobile at the moment (crutches really aren't as fun as I remember) I seem to have a huge amount of time on my hands at the moment. I've been helping G where I can with his LARP costume ready for the first Empire event this weekend, and one of his requests got me back in to my crafty ways. He was after a Saxon-style beaded necklace to go with the rest of his costume. Having looked at examples online for inspiration, below is what I came up with for him. 

I had a lot of the components lying around anyway, and raided The Bead Pot on Palace Street, Canterbury, for some more beads and the clasp. G loves it and it goes amazingly well with the rest of his costume. 
This has opened the floodgates, and with Pinterest for a tonne of inspiration, I've been playing around with some designs.

This is my first experimentation back in to the world of jewellery making. I love the classic Rockabilly symbols in the charms, and would look lovely with a day or evening outfit. I've also started some cupcake earrings which are still very much a work in progress. They're pretty simple at the moment, and I want to add some more detail to them.

Below are a couple of pictures of some items I've picked up from charity shops and eBay to create some more designs. I'm thinking of cutting up the classic 90's comics and using them to make comic book cameo pendants, having found the equipment at a bargain price. Have also got inspiration for a Swallow charm bracelet, but that is still very much a pipeline dream at the moment.

Some baking has occurred too, however no photos were taken before the cookies and cakes were demolished by myself and the boys. I have posted the links to the recipes I used, both of which were simple to follow and made for amazing treats!!!!


Monday, 18 March 2013

First Anniversary

Yesterday was my first anniversary with my significant other. To celebrate, we decided to do a day in London. Given that I am currently on crutches, this took a lot of planning on Friday, deciding where we wanted to visit, and arranging wheelchair reservations where possible (generally all of the main tourist attractions will lend a wheelchair, they only require a call in advance)

First stop was to The Design Museum, close to Tower Bridge on the South Bank. I've wanted to go there for years and even had it on my list of things to do before I turn 30.

Unfortunately half of the museum was closed, due to an exhibition change. However, the collection that was available to visit was excellent. It was amazing to see original architectural plans for everyday items, such as telephone boxes. The exhibition was incredibly varied, showing classic items through the ages, including chairs, lighting, and electronic items. The museum is moving in a couple of months, and I'd be happy to visit again at the new location.

After a trip across Tower Bridge (no photos I'm afraid,  due to the pouring rain) we went to The Wellcome Collection. I had never heard of this before, and was pleasantly surprised.

The Wellcome Collection houses the medical curiosities and inventions collected in the 1800's by Sir Henry Wellcome. There is such an astounding variety of objects housed there, showing both part of the original collection, as well as more modern medical items and medical art. It is definitely somewhere to visit, whether interested in medical curiosities or not.

Finally we went to The British Museum. I hadn't been here for nearly 10 years, and had forgotten how vast the collection and building actually is. Unfortunately we were unable to view the entire museum, but we managed to visit key collections.
One key feature for me was to see the main hall. It was designed and built by Sir Norman Foster, one of my favourite architects. Under a geometric domed glass and steel ceiling, the large spiral staircase houses the gift shop as well as part of the main cafe. The hall is huge, and a fantastic focal point for such an eclectic collection of exhibits.

Despite many aches and pains today, yesterday was absolutely amazing. It was fantastic to finally see The Design Museum, and experience new and old places. I love being close enough to London to be able to visit relatively regularly, but far enough to still get the tourist-y day trip experience.

*for more pictures, see my Facebook page

Sunday, 10 March 2013

CREAte Open Lecture

At the end of last week, I received a reminder of a CREAte Open Lecture up at the Kent School of Architecture at the University of Kent. They tend to hold a lecture each month, on varying topics, hosted by a variety of guest speakers.

This past Monday, off I went up the hill to see Sir Terry Farrell talk about the Thames Estuary/Gateway project. Sir Farrell is a leading modern architect, having designed and built buildings around the world, including the MI6 building and Charing Cross station in London. He was appointed head of the Thames Estuary project in 2008, and has since turned the project on it's head.

Above: The MI6 Building, London.

Normally I am incredibly apprehensive of lectures on topics I don't have a lot of background knowledge on (as my boyfriend constantly tells me, I can, at times, have an incredibly short attention span). However, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite is being quite a short lecture, only 45 minutes including questions at the end, the subject matter was interesting, and I found it relevant to my life and the area that I live in. 
The main aim of Sir Farrell's vision is to get back to nature. The Thames Estuary area is 40% nature, including water, and holds the largest group of nature reserves in the country. Whilst the government brief was essentially to extend London out in to Essex and Kent, he felt that the natural benefit of the area needed to be respected. 

Above: Sir Terry Farrell's initial design vision for the Thames Gateway and Estuary

Unfortunately an overall scheme has not yet been completed. Compiling the information from local authorities in the Thames Gateway area is a huge task. Each local authority has an idea of what they want to do to benefit their residents with their land. However, several main ideas were addressed during the talk -

- Turning the Medway towns in to one large city. The five main Medway towns - Chatham, Rochester, Strood, Gillingham and Rainham, are all centred around the dockyards, which are unfortunately no longer in use. Developing this area in to something of a city centre would transform the identity Medway, giving it a previously unknown solidarity
- On the Greenwich Peninsula, using the Millenium/O2 Dome as a seed to grow local and national business in the area to make it an economic hub.
- Develop the Isle of Dogs to become a proud place, full of activity, including using the water as parkland for water based activities.

Each of these ideas would have a huge knock-on effect in Kent and Essex. Whether or not they are positive ideas, or if they will even be put in to practice, is something only time will tell.