Category Archives: Brighton

A little better

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I really hate this time of year, long, dark nights, near constant rain and the feeling of gloom that Spring is so far away. I don’t like feeling cold and having having to wear jumpers and all these autumn leaves are just so slippery. So if you feel the same as me here are some things that have been making me feel a little better lately.

Lush products

I remembering discovering Lush for the first time when I was 17 and on a day out in Nottingham. My best friend and I loved it and I got so excited going in and looking at all the different products. Then the smell got on my nerves and gave me a headache and I didn’t go near Lush for years and years. But recently I’ve really got back into their products, for me Lush is about an indulgent bath bomb. Butterball is my absolute favourite, as it has fleks of cocoa butter in and your skin is so soft after, but I have been experimenting with some new ones and cannot wait to try the sakura bomb.

New shoes

What happened to Clarks?! Seriously I could buy their whole Autumn/Winter range, it’s stylish, funky, smart, comfortable and well made. I cracked the other day when there was 20% off and bought this pair and this pair. What do you think?

Mulled cider

If anything is going to get me through this bleak, depressing time of year it’s mulled cider and lots of it. Hot, sweet, and spicy it never fails to warm me up.

Making lists

I have to motivate myself by making lists and setting goals and at the moment I’m enjoying making lots of lists and seeing what I can achieve by the end of the year.

American Horror Story

I said I wasn’t going to start watching any TV shows as I didn’t want my evenings to get sucked away, but then Netflix tempted me with American Horror Story and now I’m binge watching it. Each season is a completely new story and setting, but has some of the same actors and Jessica Lange is just AMAZING in every season so far.

 

Summer fun

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It’s getting colder at night now, I can no longer wear sandals and I’ve taken to carrying a cardigan around with me. I’m sad to admit it, but it seems Summer is over. With that in mind I thought I would have a little photo review of my highlights from this Summer. To be honest it has felt like nothing big has happened  and I have just meandered along, but looking through these photos reminds me that I actually did more than I thought. In no particular order here are my highlights..

animal heads

bonfire

My friend Kyle came and visited me again recently. He was staying in an Airbnb place and I went round to check it out and we found some animal heads hidden in a cupboard, as expected we couldn’t resist putting them on and staging a photo. Afterwards we went down to the beach and had a bonfire, burnt table legs and cooked marshmallows. All in all a lovely smokey evening.

ruth and fiona

At the end of July my childhood best friend Ruth got married at Yarlington House in Somerset. It was a beautiful day and setting and great to see lots of old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. As you can see Ruth looked beautiful too.

world cup

My friend Hülya and I have developed a tradition where on the World Cup final we paint our faces with the flags of the countries in the final and go and watch the game. I’m not a big football fan, but I got into it more this year and it was fun to watch it on the outdoor cinema screen on the beach, even if we did have to sneak under the fence.

Farida, Layla and Fiona Hornimen garden July 2014

I was so happy to meet up with my friend Farida and her daughter Layla, I hadn’t seen Farida since her Wedding day three years ago as she has been living abroad. We had a lovely afternoon in the Horniman Museum gardens chilling out and catching up. One afternoon wasn’t nearly enough time to catch up, so it was a good job I went to Dubai to visit her recently.

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I usually like to make a big deal about my birthday with lots of organisation and forward planning, but this year I was happy to go out for a lovely Mexican meal at Carlito Burrito with lots of tequilla followed by dancing till the early hours. Smiles all round.

Burger in Barcelona

This year I’ve visited Barcelona four times as Daniël has been based there. To be honest I’ve not done much tourist related stuff over there, but have enjoyed hanging out, drinking good coffee, gin and cava and eating lots of food. The above picture shows me enjoying a lovely burger at Pim Pam burger.

Tilda and cone

The above picture shows me almost being speared with an icecream cone by my God daughter Matilda because I attempted to lift her up. Overall she enjoyed her trip to Brighton, but she certainly likes to do things on her own terms.

pride

Finally I’m recalling Brighton Pride it was my forth pride (I think) and to be honest I find it a little sad how corporate and commercial it has become in a short space of time. Each year the parade seems to be much smaller and full of supermarkets marching, promoting their goods. But as you can see from the picture we still managed to enjoy ourselves and have a good time.

It’s been nice recalling all of these events from the Summer, I’m sure I missed some out, but oh well.

Kyle visiting

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A couple of weekends ago my lovely friend Kyle came down to stay. Fantastic does not even begin to cover how great the weekend was, as with the best visits we ran around the whole time, barely sitting down but having so much fun. The  main aim of the Kyle’s stay was to make an epic salted caramel cake for my office bake off, which will be covered in a separate post, but we were able to fit lots of other activities in.

We spent most of the weekend eating and drinking really well and rather  frequently, as a result I’ve been going to the gym everyday since then! Saturday started off with a hearty breakfast of eggs royale. Kyle is the master of poached eggs, so observing his technique has hopefully improved mine a little. Having someone to cook breakfast with made me make a little more effort. I never make hollandaise when i’m just cooking for me, but I do enjoy doing that little bit more and trying new recipes.

Despite the fact Kyle lived in Brighton for 8 years he had never been on the dolphin derby on the pier, so obviously we set about rectifying that. The dolphin derby is a stall game where you throw balls that fall into holes and your dolphins race. It’s only a £1 and has become a tradition of mine whenever I go on the pier. This time we were lucky and I won, but gave the prize to Kyle to commemorate his first dolphin derby. Next we were going to go on a spinning, bouncing ride, but somehow Kyle persuaded me to go on the booster. The booster is that big ride at the end of Brighton pier that spins round over the sea then holds you at the top for about 5 minutes (though it fees much longer).You get good views from the top, and it’s pretty windy, but when it get going again its spins you really fast which is fun. I always get so nervous when I go on this ride, I enjoy it when it’s in motion but the waiting around 130 foot in the air does unsettle me a little. I’m sure i’ll go on it again though..

After all of the excitement we headed back to the house and started work on the cake. After making the toppings and sponges we made the decision to construct the cake the following day and get on with preparing dinner. I decided to make fondue again as Kyle had never had it, it’s relatively easy to make an feels like a special meal when you have it. If this wasn’t all enough for one day we then raced down to the cinema to watch Richard Ayode’s new film, The Double, which I really enjoyed and would recommend. The strength of the film for me was the highly stylised look of it, which builds up an unsettling feeling of gloom and dread, jarring sound design and great lead performance by Jesse Eisenberg.

Sunday was more relaxed with a morning of cake construction followed by burgers and chicken wings at Meat Liquor then goodbyes. Why do these kind of weekends come and go so quickly?!


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Catching up..

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Argh, I’m poor at keeping up with blogging!  The major change for me that happened a couple of weeks ago is I have finally moved house! This is such an utter relief for me after living in a pretty dire house with awful flatmates for far too long, I have finally managed to find a lovely new place, so am focused on staying positive, moving forward and achieving lots for the rest of this year.

It seems ages ago now, but here are a few things i’ve been up to and enjoying over the past few months.

Love Late Brighton

At the beginning of February in a break between the rain me and my friend Hülya popped to a late night event at Brighton museum called ‘Love Late’. Forcing ourselves to go out in the near continuous rain was a real challenge, but as soon as we got in the door I knew the journey had been worth it. The evening was organised around the theme of Love in view of Valentines day approaching. There were talks about the history of the ‘dirty weekend’, drop in screen printing classes, salsa classes, a big screen showing of Casablanca and a talk from Emily Dubberley about her new book; Garden of Desires: The Evolution of Women’s Sexual Fantasies. For us the best part of the evening was that we could enjoy all of this in costume from the fancy dress box. I have no idea what look I was going for, but think we both, especially Hülya look fantastic. Right before we left we discovered a secret room with a silent disco, so had a quick dance before we left. My only criticism would be I wish the event could have gone on longer, I could have easily stayed till the early hours of the morning, but I’ll remember to get there earlier next time.

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Fondue

After receiving a fondue set for Christmas from my boyfriend’s parents I’ve been getting quite into it. Here is the UK we rarely fondue, I guess it’s seen as being fairly kitch and retro. But since getting this set I’ve organised three fondue parties and everyone loves it. Though to me cheese with bread and wine is a pretty fail-safe combination. I will do a separate post on the set and recipe I use as I’m tweaking it each time I do a party.

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Arundel

In January as part of my bid to get out and about more me and my friend Sally decided to take a trip to Arundel, which is a small town in West Sussex, about 18 miles or just over an hour on the train from Brighton. We spent most of the afternoon looking around the town, popping into antique shops,and having a walk round Arundel park to Hiorne Tower. After all of this we needed a massive roast, a pint of cider and an open fire, luckily we came across The Eagle which fulfilled all of these requests.

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Camera mad.

I’ve gone a bit camera mad lately. For Christmas I receives a Fujifilm Instax 7S which has been on my wish list for a while. This camera is an instant camera that produces credit card sized pictures. The film is not too expensive and easy to get hold of. Mainly for me this is a fun camera to take shots on and share with people. It’s very simple to use and has just four settings (sunny, fine, cloudy, indoors) rather annoying it does flash every time you use it, but I guess you can cover the flash with tape. I’m looking forward to displaying the pictures in interesting ways when I have enough.

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Diana mini

Again I’ve been lusting after one of these for a while but couldn’t justify buying one last year. Luckily they went into the Urban Outfitters sale so no excuses for it not to go into my basket. The Diana mini, is a 35 mm camera where you take square format pictures and also half frame pictures. I’ve read a lot of the camera but really it’s a camera you have to experiment with and see how the film turns out when it’s developed. All those retro lomo filters you see on instagram essentially try to recreate what the Diana mini does. I took this camera with me on my recent trip to Barcelona and am waiting for the film to be developed, my fear is that everything will come out overexposed, but I will just have to wait…

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Olympus OM-2

A couple of weeks ago a work colleague gave me his old Olympus OM-2 SLR camera. I’d been saying for a while that I wanted to acquire an old manual SLR in order to hone my skills. With digital photography you can really get in the habit of taking loads of pictures and not really think about the mechanics of what makes a good picture. I haven’t used this camera at all yet, but am hoping to use it within the next few weeks.

So that’s been some of the highlights from me for the past few months.

 

Pink Martini at the Brighton Dome

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Last week me and my lovely friend Hülya went to see Pink Martini. To those of you who don’t know Pink Martini are a 10 piece band hailing from Portland, Oregon. When people ask me what their music is like I find it really hard to describe them, the easiest way to sum them up is to say they are an international jazz orchestra who make lounge music that you can salsa to for one song then coolly sip a gin and tonic for the next one. My favourite thing about them is that they have songs in all different languages from Italian to French to Turkish despite the fact that the singer, China Forbes only speaks fluently one language.

I discovered the band one day years ago because I was googling Eugene Hutz from Gogol Bordello and Pink Martini’s song ‘Hey Eugene’ came up in the search results. I gave it a listen, liked it and got one of their albums which I periodically listen to on my ipod. For me personally they are a band I dip into occasionally but for Hülya they are her favourite band and very special to her, so when they announced last October that they were coming to Brighton I immediately knew what to get Hülya for her birthday.

After months of waiting the date for seeing them finally came around and last Tuesday we put on our best dresses and made our way to the Brighton Dome. Honestly I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, but the best gigs are the ones that take you by surprise and give you more than you were hoping for. What made it for me was that the band were so relaxed and just seemed to be having so much fun. When a member of the audience shouted a song request they got her on stage to sing as China wasn’t sure she could remember all the words as they hadn’t played that song for years. I also loved that they encouraged people to get onto stage and dance to their songs which is really what they are meant for. When we first arrived I was worried that the audience would be a bit too wooden and not get into it, but the conga line at the end cast any doubts away that I had.

For me the best part was the encore when Rufus Wainwright came on stage, yes RUFUS WAINWRIGHT *swoon* for their latest album they have done a duet and they performed it together before ending the set with a cover of ‘Get Happy’ then we went to a signing after the concert and met the band. Perfect night.

I’m off to slip on a ball gown, sip a cocktail and dance around the room with Pink Martini as my soundtrack.
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Lucky Voice, Brighton

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I am not usually a fan of karaoke, I live in a house of massive karaoke fans and have been subjected to five hours of karaoke before including a Disney themed hour in the past. It’s not that they’re bad singers in fact quite the opposite they are all great singers which makes it worse for pitchless me who can’t hold a note as I have to sing after a near note perfect version of Adele. Since then karaoke has been rather joyless for me, so when my friend Kyle suggested going to Lucky Voice  I was less than enthusiastic, but as it was his leaving party and I think he is pretty cool I decided to go.

The first surprise of the night was that we didn’t have to pay for the hire of the booth, as we were going on a Wednesday night and the majority of our party were students we got the hire for free, coupled with two for one cocktails even before the singing started I was already having a good night. Having been to a couple of booth style karaoke bars before I was surprised by how large the room was that we were given, usually they are really poky with no room to dance but this room comfortably got eight of us in with plenty of extra space. Plus there was a fantastic dressing up box with with wigs and inflatable microphones which we all made use of.

The good thing about these booths is that you never really feel like you are in the spotlight and all eyes are on you, you can change the light settings, get the glitterball going or just chill and take in whats going on, all of which provides a more relaxing atmosphere. There are several microphones so people can sing at the same time and it feels like it’s designed to be a more collaborative effort. Though I did sing my karaoke classic ‘I love to hate you’ by Erasure. It’s what I always sing, I know all the words and even though I can’t get the high notes I don’t care.

We all had so much fun and were genuinely disappointed when we were cut off mid ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as our two hours had run out. Though past experience tells me it’s best to end on a high note than a Disney themed hour. We all stumbled out of Lucky Voice had a parting gin n tonic at the Cricketers then happily made our way home (via Subway). A surprisingly good night.

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Planet India and mighty battenburg checkerboard cake.

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A few weeks ago my flatmate’s girlfriend asked if I would be willing to make a birthday cake for her this year. Of course I said yes, then she sent me this link. I was hoping she was going to send me a link to a simple chocolate cake that I could make look pretty, but no epic battenburg cake it was. Well I like a challenge and am always trying to expand my baking CV so I decided to give it a go, but was secretly dreading making it. Rather sensibly for me I planned to make this cake over two days, the baking of the cake on the first day and the construction of it on the second. I will go through the method of making it later on but essentially I would say that this recipe needs some modification. The main problem is that the cake comes out a bit too dry and falls apart, to rectify this I would probably reduce the ground almonds and flour. Though the technique for getting the checker board effect is one you could use with other cakes, I’m very keen to try a vanilla and chocolate version of this cake held together with chocolate ganache. Anyway getting back to the battenburg…. surprisingly despite all of the cakes falling apart I managed to glue it all together with apricot jam, cover it with marzipan, refrigerate it and hope it would resemble something close to a checkerboard pattern when cut, so off I went to the party cake in hand (then swiftly hid before the birthday girl saw it).

For my flatmate’s birthday we all went to Planet India, it really is quite a special and unusual place, nothing else like it in Brighton anyway. The first time I went there I didn’t really know what to think of it, it feels like you are having dinner in someone’s lounge, with saris hanging from the ceiling and the owner walking round barefoot while you eat with spoons. The menu is fully vegetarian and quite simple, but equally you get dishes that are not your usual Indian restaurant staples, plus you can get ‘Thumbs Up’ there, an Indian version of coke which is served iced cold in glass bottles. Drinking it always reminds me of sitting on plastic stools in dusty roadside restaurants in India in blistering heat eating endless curry in a state of wonder.

Fiona thumbs up

As there was a large group of us we  ordered all of the starters and shared them between us all. Ones to note and order if you go there are ketchoris which are balls of spicy peas and coconut in pastry, pani puris which are fried balls filled with chickpeas and potatoes then filled up with spicy water and taken in one bite and finally the Punjabee style samosas.

curry startersFor the main course I decided to go for the sweetcorn and patra curry,  sweetcorn and chunks of vine leave with a spicy paste in a tomato sauce. At first I didn’t think this curry was too spicy, but it’s one of those that builds with each mouthful, so by the end of the curry I was struggling and my mouth was burning.

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Then came the surprise dessert…. Cat seemed pleased then she had received a birthday cake.

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And I was quite pleased when she cut it.

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It looks like a proper battenburg. I have never been so proud of a cake, though it will be a long time before I make it again!

Method and construction.

Following the recipe make the cakes, the recipe makes four cakes but I lost one in the construction, so probably worth having the extra one to have as a spare or you can make a four tier cake if you prefer.

Once you have made the the cakes you need to cut two circles of cake out of each of them then swap the middle rings of the almond sponges with the middle rings from the rose sponges, and fit the cut pieces back together. It’s worth chilling the cakes for an hour as this makes cutting them alot easier. To cut the pieces I made templates and cut round them. To work out the sizes of circles you need just divide the diameter of your cake tin by three to get the diameter of the first circle and double that to get the diameter of the second. The diameter of my tin was 21cm so the diameter of my two circles were 7cm and 14cm.

cake construction 1

The  mix and match cake pieces should look like targets. Now you need to place the whole cakes on top of each other alternatively (pink edge, plain edge etc) sealing each layer with warmed apricot jam. I warm the jam in the microwave, this makes it easier to spread.

cake construction 2

Finally you need to cover the cake in marzipan. I had absolutely no idea how to do this, so had a quick look at a youtube video, so I had a better idea of what I was meant to be doing. Once you have rolled out the marzipan to a couple of mm thick you want to cover it in the warmed apricot jam using a pastry brush then using the rolling pin to pick it up cover the cake. As long as you have rolled it larger than the cake you should have no trouble. Smooth it on top first then go round the edge patting it to the side of the cake and getting rid of the pleats. When you are happy with the covering use a palette knife to trim off the excess. But really just watch the video and you will feel alot more confident doing it. Now take a rest and bask in your achievement of having made a battenburg cake.

icing with apricot jam