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Happy Semi-Versary to me (and Tim)

I appologise for my lack of blogging, I have slipped out of the habit far too quickly. I have four or five things still in my head and yet to blog about but they can wait until later. Remind me if you don’t see another blog soon. Anyway, onto Today’s…

*This Blog post contains a fair few photos!*

Yesterday (Feburary 18th) was 6 months since Tim and I tied the knot on that wonderful (but terribly windy) summer’s day.

To celebrate I may have ever so slightly ensured that a surprise or two would occur on this day. However, I had no idea what the surprise would be and to be honest, I would have been pretty happy with a nice lunch somewhere in town and maybe the cinema or a walk in the park…

Instead, I was given a piece of paper with destinations 1, 2 and 3 written with the minimal directions which simply had the numbers of the roads on as to not give the game away.

After about an hour or so of driving up the A1, I had a few thoughts as to where we could be going. I thought it could be Holy Island (but as he wasn’t concerned by times at all I thought this was unlikely), possibly a trip to Morpeth (I hear it’s nice and I’ve never been), or maybe even Berwick upon Tweed or Alnwick to walk around the town. We ended up in Alnwick (I assumed to go to Barter Books) but better still it was the beautiful gardens.

I took Tim to the treehouse first and ran along the bridges – it has to be done, whether you are 23, 73 or just 3 years old it is always a giggle. Then we had lunch in the cafe. This consisted of beautiful wooden tables and chairs that had been designed beautifully and some rather yummy sweet potato chips too!

ImageWe then went for a walk in the Gardens. The fountains came on just at the right time and we were greeted with a rather spectacular display:


We then went and looked at all the lovely water features they have and what sicence-y things they demonstrate before having a walk around the cherry trees. This was rather lovely but a bit bare so I’m looking forward to going back in spring when they are in blossom.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

We then headed south toward destination 2. It wasn’t until we were south of the river Tyne that I realised where we were heading. We were stuck in traffic for a while as it was rush hour but this didn’t spoil the surprise. In fact, it made it better as I don’t think our timing could have been more perfect. Neither of us had been to the angel of the north before, (we had both driven past but never stopped to say ‘hello’). Tim’s excuse was that it wasn’t there when he got here, and mine was, well I didn’t have one (aside from that I couldn’t drive myself and nobody had taken me). This was a perfect surprise and the pictures speak for themselves as to how breathtaking it was.


or how Tiny it makes Tim:


We then headed off to destination number 3 which was an italian restaurant called Michelangelo’s in Ryton. It was very nice and they did pretty good cocktails too. The only distraction was the BBC news 24 on the television behind me (especially when it had an article on obesity). This was also where I discovered that Richard Briers has died. He was a fantastic actor and I didn’t know he was ill…. Moving on…

We had a lovely meal and it was time to go home. As we left we headed back towards Newcastle and about 10 seconds later Tim was turning off up a driveway and saying “I haven’t been completely honest… there is a fourth destination”. This was a wonderful little four star Bed and Breakfast which had recommended the restaurant!


It was a beautiful end to a perfect day, and I am not normally this cheesy but the effort that my husband put yesterday means I think he deserves it!


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Condensation Complication

As you should all be aware, here in the UK it is winter, and up in Newcastle it’s often below freezing, particularly this past week. Our living room has no radiator but it does have a very nice gas fire. So we have barely used the heating and tried to limit our gas fire budget too. However, this week it has led to a bit of a disaster…


Last night, we were rather late getting to bed, but when we do we try and have heating on for half and hour before so the room is not too freezing. Last night we were finally ready to go to sleep when: “PLOP” I felt my pillow and it was wet. We were concerned that it could have been a leak from the loft so I moved into the spare room and poor Tim slept on the floor of the living room. 


First thing in the morning (9am) our landlord came over to look at the problem. Turns out that the extractor fan (and pipe) from the bathroom passes through that part of the room and the cold air was coming into the pipe from outside causing condensation above our heads. This meant that poor Tim moved all the furniture round and so our bed is no longer above the “drip zone”. To do this he had to take everything apart! Tim moved the mattress (partly so it would dry) took the slats off the bed and moved the frame. All of the clothes taken out of the wardrobes and placed into piles on spare bits of floor and shelves removed. Meanwhile, I slept next door staying out of the way.



and now I’ve written all this I’ve realised how dull this post is….. Sorry.


Chocolate Yule Log – how (or possibly how not) to bake

This week saw my first ever attempt at making a yule log (or as it’s titled in the book: “Buche de Noel”). The results are as follows:

I am using a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to bake’ I’ve tried other things from this book and they have been fairly complex but the instructions are good and have always seemed to turn out well….

The First step is to of course: buy the ingredients!


The recipe required: 6 large eggs, 250g dark chocolate, 150g caster sugar, 400ml double cream, 250g raspberries, 125g, unsalted butter, 225g icing sugar, 25g cocoa powder, 4tbsp water, 1 1/2 tbsp milk and vegetable oil.

Stage one: heat the oven to 220C – simple! Line a swiss roll tin (23x33cm) with greaseproof paper and brush paper lightly with oil. I have no idea what a swiss tin is or looks like but a standard baking tray worked well for me.

Next: whisk the caster sugar and egg YOLKS together until creamy. The book says use an electric whisk but I don’t have one, so I used a hand blender for this part. I could have whisked by hand but the hand blender did a very good job (well done hand blender).

The next bit is my favourite part; break the chocolate into small chunks:


A rolling-pin is defiantly your best bet with that one. Then heat your battered chocolate and water in a bowl over simmering water until smooth and melted, leave it to cool slightly (if you leave it too long it goes hard again – that is of no use to the cake at all) and fold into the whisked mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg WHITES (I hope you didn’t do what I did and drop a yolk in, good job I had 12 eggs to use) until stiff but not dry (If the cake is dry it won’t roll well later). Like I said before, I don’t have an electric whisk so this took some time and I have to call in reinforcements but at least by hand it’s very hard to over whisk. Gently and gradually fold in the egg whites with a large metal spoon into the mixture. As it has no flour I’m pretty certain that the air whisked into the egg whites is what helps it to rise slightly…

Bake for 12-14 minutes and defiantly no longer. You should end up with something like this:


Mine was a little bit on the “well cooked side” which I think made it a bit dry :\
Leave to cool for at LEAST 2 hours…

I left mine overnight in a kitchen which was probally too cold as the next stages were more difficult then they should have been…

Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper on a board (this I did not do and may have led to what came next!) and turn out the sponge onto the paper and lift off the tin. carefully peel away the paper and you should have something like this:


Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks (this really isn’t too difficult with a hand whisk – even I could do it) and spread evenly over the sponge.

Spread the raspberries as evenly as possible so it looks like this:


This is where the real challenge lies; roll up from a long side towards you (using the paper that I forgot to use to help) you will get a cracked effect but that’s normal. This is how it should have looked:


and here is how mine rolled out:

“So where did mine go wrong?” I asked myself. Well, I think there were three reasons:
1. I overcooked the sponge, maybe just by a minute or two but I think that was just a minute too long.
2. I left it in too cool a place and I think it dried out a bit more then it would have if I had just left it for 2-3 hours.
3. I forgot all about the greaseproof paper to help me roll. The sponge is quite sticky (due to the lack of flour) and stuck to the board making it very hard to roll, the greaseproof paper could have rescued me from my troubles.

Finally; to make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft. My butter hadn’t been in the fridge but our kitchen was too cold and so it was still very solid. I put it in the microwave for 10 seconds but I think it needed longer, I did have a fear of it melting too much though. Sift the icing sugar and cocca powder together over the mixture, add the milk and mix to make a soft icing. I added extra milk and mine was still too firm. with a fear of it becoming too runny if I kept adding more milk, I put the icing on top, as I did so the log struggled to hold together and so evenly speading proved an impossibility.

here is my finished result:

Whilst it looked to be a total disaster, I took it to the 11-14’s girls group I help to lead and all of them wanted seconds so it clearly tasted fine. Once I had cut into it, I discovered it had a rather nice swirl too:


At least the taste was there but I think if I was in the bake off I would be going home…


Is it so difficult to live in peace?

Tonight, Tim, Linus, Patty and myself, went to see Brian McLaren talk about  whether or not it is possible to live in peace and harmony whilst all believing in different things, (don’t worry, sometime next week my blog will simply be on “how to make a chocolate log – Paul Hollywood style, but for now here are my thoughts). In short I believe the answer to be: yes. Whether or not we will learn to live in peace with those within our own faiths is a whole new challenge in itself. It is far easier to accept that somebody believes in a different God or a different variation of the same sort of God and respect that, but to understand someone who is technically “the same” as you believes something (whatever that may be) that you don’t, things get rather tricky.

My first thought is simple: Jesus tells us to love him and love our neighbour as ourself (now that is assuming that we love/like ourself but that’s a big can of worms I won’t open today), so regardless or colour, creed, religion, political views etc. we should be loving and peaceful with everybody we meet. However; we are human and our ability to do that, fails all to often. I for one, like to recognise that we all fail, it’s part of who we are as people and pretending that we don’t fail for whatever reason causes problems. Being able to apologise and accept our mistakes and move on is a far better solution, but not one we often take. I like to think I do a fairly good job of this without simply pretending that I agree with everyone and everything. I tried that in secondary school and it didn’t really help me. My foundations are firmer by being strong in what I believe. If I do get things wrong like this,

I like to hope that my friends will pick up on it and tell me so. I hope that I will continue to demonstrate what I believe to others and love those whose beliefs (be it religious or not) are different to my own. I have been very privileged to have grown up in a society where being a white christian wasn’t really a majority*, it taught me quickly that people are more important then what they believe and it’s far better to just try to get along.

I have a question for you all (mostly I’d like to hear from my non-christian friends): In what ways/ how can I talk to you about God, without it being a “you should become a christian” thing? What I mean by that is, I would love to be able to talk more about faith, and how it’s shaped me but also what you think and why you don’t believe in particular through a good conversation but I have no idea where to start? If anyone has any ideas do let me know!


*I grew up in Brixton and went to secondary school in croydon where 50% (at most) were white and about that same amount christian. I probably had a slightly more diverse upbringing that a majority of other people I know now.


My first post and things to be thankful for

Well hello there!

This here is my first post on my new blog. I think I decided to start this simply due to jealousy of my husband’s blog and realising that I myself may in fact have interesting things to say.

So expect, random baking sessions, lessons learnt in youth work, new opportunities and general ramblings.  I thought a good way to start off would be to write about what I’m thankful for. This came from my lovely husband Tim and as it’s thanksgiving it seems fitting…

10 physical things
Baking stuff, going to the pub, visiting friends, cycling (as much as I moan about it at times), cuddles, dancing, knitting, making snow angels, going on roller coasters, and attending conventions.

10 material things
My phone, my dvd collection, our telly, our comfy bed of giantness, all my doctor who merchandise, my travel mug, my mugs which have been made just for me (of which I now have 3), my stash of letters and pictures from friends, my lovely laptop, and my digital radio.

10 living people
I think I should really start off with my husband (still in disbelief about that one), my best friend Hollie, my parents and parents-in-law, my church family, my friends I made because of Green Wing and those from doctor who, various actors and directors (especially Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig), my friend Patty, those who go the extra mile to give good customer service, the Parson family and my oldest friend: Peter.

10 deceased people
Both of my Grandmas, Our friend Nish, Audrey Hepburn, the first ever doctor: William Hartnell, Edward Jenner, William Shakespeare (he’s not lazy with the phrasey), Elizabeth Sladen, Judas, Winston Churchill, and John Logie Baird.

10 things about today
Time spent with Jo, Hannah and Elijah, phone calls about exciting youth work opportunities, my husband being silly and making me laugh, new big bang theory, tasty dinner, discovering this, nice phone calls with my mum, chilli and cheese bread, starting this here blog, and achieving pointless answers!

10 things about nature
Great British sunsets, how it never ceases to amaze me, good walking routes, the variety and beauty of birds, watching the rain (from indoors), rolling hills, steep valleys, waterfalls, beautiful and creative gardens, and the sun and stars.

10 places
coffee houses (especially one20 and starbucks), my home, my bed in particular, Holy island, London (but only to visit), Newcastle upon Tyne, where my friends are, doctor who exhibition, conventions, theme parks and wheelbirks (amazing ice cream parlour of loveliness).

10 modern inventions
Smart phones, Laptops, BBC iPlayer, Surround Sound, Espresso machines, DVD’s, digital cameras, vaccinations, the NHS, and The BBC.

10 foods
Crisps, coffee, pies, sausage rolls, cakes, nachos, chips, strawberries, jelly, and ice-cream.

10 spiritual things
Forgiveness, mercy, love, peace, wisdom, redemption, acceptance, understanding (or sometimes lack of), blessing and honour.

So, that’s my hundred reasons to be thankful. What would yours be?