30 April 2012

Seeking the Southbank Centre - Cheese and Wine Festival

Now that I've been doing a better job of keeping up with my Google Reader I've had the chance to catch some cool things happening in London.

I read that London was hosting a Cheese and Wine festival over the weekend and immediately cleansed my palate so I could savour some delicious cheese and drink amazing wine.  The festival took place just outside of the Southbank Centre and appears to be part of the same festival branding as the Chocolate Festival that my bud Ashley blogged about in Brighton. Being allergic to chocolate and all meant I couldn't enjoy that festival, so I was really excited to have a few samples of cheese. I did the best I could, but unfortunately the weather got the best of us - London rain and outdoor festivals do NOT mix - even though the organiser of the event tried to stay optimistic.

Rainy London Cheese and Wine Festival

I managed to properly visit two stalls that were near and dear to my heart.  If Manchester is my 2nd home in England, then Somerset is my divorced home - you get two homes in a divorce and I've spent a decent amount of time in Wells since moving to England! On a cold and rainy London day, The Somerset Plough Man serving hot cider was a perfect pick-me-up.  We also managed to sample some 'real' cheddar according to Rob.

The Somerset Plough Man - Cider, Cheese and Chutney

Burrow Hill Cider

Just across the way, as recommended to me by fellow London lover and Queen of Underground knowledge Annie Mole, the amazing Flavours of Spain stall was serving plates of cheese to sample for £4.  While Spanish cheese isn't always something to rave about, it should be of no surprise that I spent most of my time hovering near their stall as I love all things Spain and seem to make a yearly pilgrimage to the area.  After enjoying the samples, - 1 of which was a cider cured cheese (!!?!) I went for two types of goat's cheese of varying intensities and some quince.  I have no idea where quince came from, why it exists and how it's so delicious, but man I love that stuff!

Gorgeous cheese and other things from Flavours of Spain

After waiting 30 minutes under the covered area for the rain to stop we finally gave up on trying to see more of the festival. Being cold and wet doesn't make for a happy cheese experience. To dry off, we popped inside the Southbank Centre to find a really weird mix of people enjoying the free space.

In one corner there was a group of teens with one leading the pack and playing songs on his guitar for a mass sing-a-long. In another corner, toddlers without a care in the world were rolling on the slick wooden floor and seeing how far they could slide themselves across the room. And finally, there's me and Rob, lowering the tone with our pints purchased from the bar in the area.  I'm not sure this scene would work so well in the States!

29 April 2012

Seeking a Hangover Cure

Is there anything better than this after a night out?

My 'morning after' cure
  • Fried eggs
  • Breakfast potatoes
  • Baked Beans
  • Fried Mushrooms
  • Toast with strawberry jam
  • Streaky Bacon
  • Tea
This isn't too far off from what I would have in the States - there'd be some pancakes or waffles and less bean/mushroom action going on, but I don't think that'll do the trick anymore!

What's your go-to breakfast after a night out?

26 April 2012

#RelsTunes: Jonquil - It's My Part

Festival season is just around the corner here in England, which means it's time to wipe your playlists of all the music you've been listening to for the past year and discover something new. So, I'll be sharing my favourite tunes of the week to help you get in the mood for festivals.

This week, I'm dancing to: It's My Part by Jonquil
Style: Indie pop band
A little like: Tanlines, Dog is Dead
Listen to this while drinking: a wheat beer with an orange slice

But I love this version as well!! Maybe listen to this with a vodka based mixer :)

25 April 2012

Seeking Manchester - People's History Museum

Manchester is my second home here in England, but I rarely get to see Manchester. I typically just see the 'in-laws' and there's not much to do because it's a holiday. I finally had the chance to go up there with no tea time obligations and had a wander around the city.

I love it there because so much of the city reminds me of Cleveland, where I'm from.

The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, OH - 2009
OK - so that is a bit of a glamour shot of Cleveland, but let me tell you, it's quite an industrial town. So much so that the river before your eyes once caught fire in the 70s due to all of the pollution from the factories along the river over the century.

None-the-less, walking around my Northern home, was a great escape from busy city life down here in the South and I spent hours walking around the People's History Museum.  If you have the chance, I highly recommend you go there for a vist.  I'm not much of an art museum kind of person, and I like to see exhibitions that are a bit different like when I visited the Canal Museum in London or the Fishing 'museum' (it was a room, so that term is used lightly) in Brighton.  PHM was a nice combination of history and political issues that workers faced at different points in England. They had some great political cartoons that had been used to win the working man's vote and later the working woman's vote and an entire section on banners that people carry during protests or for unions etc.  Interesting I suppose, if banners are your thing.

I learned a nice deal about 1819 Massacre (Peterloo) where 15 people died during a peaceful protest in MCR for the right to vote as working citizens. Also heard for the first time, 'phossy jaw' which little girls got while working in the matchstick factories and the phosphorus began to deterioratie the bones in their jaw. I got really happy when I reached the part about the NHS coming about in the late 40s and wondered, WTF we were up to in America that we STILL haven't sorted it out today.  And finally, I understood why football is on Saturdays - due to their work weeks being 6 days, but later granted a half-day Saturday so that's when people went out and had fun. I even saw a few clips from the 1923 Bolton v West Ham FA Cup Final.

View of the River Irwell

How long have we been fighting against sweatshops?

This was lolz to me
Different year, same argument.

That's a big promise to make. I swear I've heard this claim before tho...

A really powerful image of police 'authority' taking it too far.
She was helping a man who was hit by the police during a riot



24 April 2012

Seeking Brixton - The Duke of Edinburgh

I don't know how it happened but my friends managed to get me South of the River! *gasp* On a very sunny weekend in London I made the glorious trek on the Victoria Line southbound to Brixton to have a bit of a 'girls-day-out'. I suppose it was a day of doing new things because I don't do girls days out!

It actually was quite fun and a nice pub that's a bit like the TARDIS: MUCH bigger on the inside.  While the furniture and bar area were pretty standard, it was the wall decor and garden statues that stood out to me the most.

There was also a generous landlord that dished out free drinks for having the winning horse during the Grand National.  Well, most people got free drinks.  Apparently there was a race to get to the bar as well and time limit on when they gave the drinks. #notcool #flaseadvertising

On the other hand, we didn't need more drinks - there was far too much white wine in our diet that day.

We also ordered some food, but that didn't get photographed due to my camera incident and my iPhone being a POS. It was about £10 per meal which feels a bit pricey, but they had a unique selection of food that you wouldn't expect on a pub menu.  We went for the jerk chicken and grilled halloumi which as far as I can remember was quite nice, but the wine didn't leave much memory of the end of that day! 

Would I go back? For sure, but you'd have to drag me south of the river first. There's a MASSIVE beer garden out back that looks like it's a great space not only for drinking but possibly entertaining as there was a stage!

The Duke of Edinburgh can be found at:

204 Ferndale Road
Nearest Tube: Brixton

Duke of Edinburgh on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

23 April 2012

Seeking a new camera

Nearly a year ago I pledged to take a bit more care of this blog and keep my notebook, camera, and iPhone at the ready to document anything that I thought might be interesting. I think I've done a decent job over the past year, with a few real gems of places to go and things to do in London.

On my last adventure, I reached into my bag for my HP Photosmart R742 and switched the camera on, only to see this staring back at me

My heart literally dropped. This was a Christmas present from my Ma about 5 years ago and it's green because it's her favourite colour.  It's seriously been around the world and back with me on some of my greatest trips abroad and at home.  Before getting my iPhone when I moved to England, this bad boy was in my bag all the time (which makes it harder to wrap my head around how it's somehow broken now) - now I only bring it out for certain nights.  The camera still works, but the screen obviously doesn't and there isn't a viewfinder so it's a bit of a guessing game when I take pics. 

I've been stuck using my iPhone 3GS which I'm realising has a crap camera and not having flash just doesn't work for me.

I'm sure this isn't the end of the world but I need your help!

  1. Who/where/how do I get an LCD screen replaced
  2. Is the camera any better on the iPhone 4 or is it time to make the HTC switch? This review doesn't make it seem like there's a difference but according to this video, their camera works wonders

08 April 2012

Seeking Recipes - Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

OK England, let's talk food.  I know you think you've got mac n' cheese sorted out - it's your lunch at a pub or a full on dinner on its own, but you're really missing out. Macaroni and cheese should only be a side dish on a massive plate of other comforting foods i.e. sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, collard greens, holiday roasts etc. But I'll start you off with the basics first.

Here's what you'll need:

250g of macaroni (not the quick cook kind)
2 tablespoons of butter
150ml of single cream
1 tablespoon of soured cream
2 ounces of milk
100g of extra mature cheddar chopped into blocks
2 slices of cheese singles torn

Cooking time 30-45 minutes - Serves 4

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add macaroni. Boil macaroni for 10-12 minutes while stirring or until the pasta becomes large and soft.  Remove pan from heat and drain the macaroni in a colander while rinsing under cold water.  This keeps the pasta firm and stops it from cooking and sticking together while you're making the cheese sauce.

In the same pot (it's ok if some mac is stuck to the pot), melt the butter over low heat and add the single cream while constantly stirring. Raise the heat to a light boil and add the milk, and cheeses to the mixture. Stir until the cheese has melted.

Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce in the pot and stir until completely coated.  If there is too much liquid raise the heat for a few seconds and continue to stir.  

As an added touch, put a few more torn cheese slices on top, and bake in the oven on 175ÂșC for 5 - 10 minutes.  Sometimes I even like to add chopped crispy bacon. 


Swimming with this Mermaid