Thursday, September 29, 2011


After being so tired last night, we took it rather easily this morning and pottered off to breakfast about 9.00. We had the usual, which was very pleasant, then returned upstairs to finish the packing. We checked out leaving the bags with the concierge and set off for the Royal Palace on a beautiful sunny morning. On the way down we picked up another PC at the Thyssen, and walked down Carreras de San Jeronimo where we came across a little shop selling every kind of violet sweetmeat, La Violeta. We decided that we would call in on our way back to the hotel. When we arrived at the Royal Palce there was a bit of a queue, but soon we were inside, and again, no photos of the interior, but I could take in the plaza de armas, with its arched west side with views across the countryside outside the city. We had taken audio guides here, and proceeded into the palace on the north side of the plaza. We mounted the grand staircase up to the official apartments, and followed the natural route through the sumptuous rooms with the guide as a running commentary. Everything is quite magnificent, and although several groups whisked through with or without a guide, we never felt completely overtaken. Only in the last room, where there is a display of ceremonial china, did one guide appear almost shouting her head off, but one among so many wasn't so bad!
The route now took us to the royal pharmacy where we walked through several rooms of ancient flasks and bottles  made from glass and pot with gilded labels. In the far recesses there were travelling trunks for medicines, distillation retorts, balance scales and other apparatus on display. Some of the bottles had strange labels such as asparagus extract and hoof of the beast, but there was also quinine bark from Peru. Apparently, Spain had the monopoly on quinine bark - a good little earner for the royals. Leaving the pharmacy we crossed the plaza de armas to look at the view out to the west through the archways, and then entered the armoury. To start with it was very interesting, but as we descended to the lower floor, the standard of commentary also descended. Instead of having extra numbers to press if one wanted to hear more about certain objects, the whole story just went on and on, and we just gave up in the end. It was definitely time for a little lunch, and we found our way to the palace cafe for a small roll with salami and cheese and a cup of coffee.
It was now about 2pm, so we planned a slow route back to the hotel via the oldest part of the city along and to the south of Calle Major. The oldest buildings are around Plaza de la Villa, and just down one of the side streets we came across a beautiful little shop selling produce from convents and monasteries across Spain, El Jardín del Convento. We had to go in and have a look, and we were not disappointed, finding jams, biscuits and cakes on sale but also, incongruously, Yankee candles! We bought some jams and biscuits as gifts before continuing. Our next spot was 'stronginthearm' street (for TP fans), up which we found the bikeSpain shop, closed.
The next plaza along Calle Major was Plaza de San Miguel and just behind it is the Mercado de San Miguel and we had to go and have a look. It is full of delis selling all sorts of delicacies that people were buying and eating standing at the counters. There were also wine places and juice counters. after a stroll around, we stopped for some juice, it would have been a great place for our snack, if only we had known! So on we went, crossing Puerto del Sol and going back up Carreras de San J, looking for the violet shop, which sadly was shut until four thirty, too late for us.
We decided to head for the Retiro park and maybe tea or an ice cream. when we got there, after some photo taking of buildings, we voted for ice creams and sat at a shady table enjoying them. Back at the hotel we collected the bags and put our treasures inside, then walked up the street to the metro, which would take us to the airport. We arrived in good time and sat in the lounge for a while. Then we discovered the flight was delayed for half an hour, so we sat a little longer, then took our time walking to the gate. The passengers from London were just disembarking so we thought we would soon be boarding, only to discover that they would delay our flight (8.50), to 10.20 with no announcement, apology or explanation. Thanks very much BA and Iberia.
Eventually back at Heathrow, A called the valet parking and the man said the car would be waiting for us when we got through customs. He handed over the keys and we drove home down a fairly busy motorway. What a great break Madrid has been!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Lovely breakfast again, with violet preserve in the bottom of the yoghurt and also on toast, black coffee to waken me up. Then A found an FT so had a quiet read while I perused the Design Hotelsl book in which I found all the beautiful Hospes hotels as well as some stunning places elsewhere. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum would be open at ten, so we soon were out on the move down Paseo del Prado. I get in free, but A had to pay six euros! We did get their audio guides as well, which are excellent, apart from one description of Marc Chagall's The Grey House that mentioned the synagogue in the background, which is in fact the Russian orthodox monastery. There are so many wonderful works of art in the collections that it is difficult to choose a favourite, whether you like Holbein, Henry VIII; El Greco or Velazquez; Rembrandt, Rubens or Raphael; Impressionists, cubists, Russians, French, Dutch, British or Americans; whatever - it's all here!
At last we needed to stop, and with a last look around, we made our way out to the Terrace Cafe and a small roll filled with cheese and roast veggies with a great cup of coffee. We wanted to buy some more PCs, and were told off by an attendant for looking in a drawer for the Degas, Swaying Dancers, as it had run out on the shelves! So now it was time to walk down the road to Centro de Arte Reina Sofia our next stop.
This turned out to be less exciting in some respects as it seemed a bit chaotic with several parts being closed, certain items not where they had been when the guide book was written, and having to wade through loads of stuff to get to the real treasures. Nevertheless, we did see Guernica, Picasso's masterpiece. Obviously it is a very important piece, especially for the Spanish nation, but there was so much about the war, it was a bit overwhelming. We did find Joan Miro, other Picasso's, Gris, Solana, several other famous Spanish artists and to our surprise some Salvador Dali early works, which you would never guess were his. A lovely painting of a girl looking out through a window at a harbour wall really caught our eye, such a natural flowing style. We needed a cup of tea, so found our way to the new wing where there is a cafe. Crossing the plaza, we saw Brushstroke, a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture on display, and then sat at the bar for tea and cake. 
We decided it was time to get out into the fresh air, so we left the museum and walked to Plaza de Espagna where Madrid's first skyscraper was built. It looks a bit like Stalin's 'wedding cakes' in Moscow with its broad base and central tower. In front of it is the plaza with its ornamental lake and memorial to Cervantes with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza at its base. This is a popular place to get one's photo taken as the two are easily reachable and there was a constant stream of people climbing up to stand by Rocinante, with DQ towering over them.
We now walked back in the direction of Plaza de la Independencia, taking a quick look at the Royal Palace and finding some of the tiled shop fronts we saw in the dark on our tapas tour. We needed some energy to get all the way back, and we found the Chocolateria San Gines where everyone goes to finish off a night out to eat churros dipped in thick warm chocolate. It is amazing stuff, and reminded us of our trip to Andalucia where we had eaten the same on the banks of the river in Seville, just before we went off to catch the plane home. Today's were absolutely delicious and we used the time to get a few PCs written.
We were so tired when we got back to the hotel, we just managed a couple of tapas plates with some summer wine and beer. The summer wine, that we also tried on the tapas tour is called Tinto de Verano and is a refreshing mix of red wine, some slices of citrus fruit and ice topped up with lemonade. Only in the hotel they add some vermouth. It is very refreshing and very popular. In fact it is better to order this than Sangria, which no Spanish person drinks in a bar! Sangria is a party drink and in Spain they make it a day or too in advance so the fruit absorbs the wine and wine dissolves the fruit! We didn't even manage dessert before it was time to retire to bed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Alarm at eight and breakfast at nine. They have the classic Hospes service with cereals in little jars, wonderful fruit, an amazing selection of pastries including macaroons and their preserves that include violet preserve. My yoghurt had a garnish of passion fruit, but surprised me by having a little violet preserve right at the bottom. So delicious!
Then it was time to walk down to the Prado, to collect our tickets, audio guides and museum plans. We had the most fantastic time discovering all sorts of treasures from a special exhibition of Picasso's Acrobat on a Ball on loan from the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, to Albrecht Deurer; Dutch masters to Italians; British artists and Flemish painters. It is just full of major works of art as one would expect. We had to have a couple of breaks during our five hours, and although we reached pretty much every corner, we had to skim passed some of the many, just taking in major pieces suggested by several paper guides and the audio guides we had hired. A great discovery were some of the Spanish painters of the late nineteenth/ early twentieth century. They are not widely known outside Spain, on the whole, for example Fortuny and Rico.
When we had finished our visit, we made our way to the exit and crossed the street to the Real Jardin Botanico, where we strolled in the shade of the trees, breathing in the scented air and looking at the lovely flowers and plants on display. The rose garden and dahlias were in full bloom; the veggie/herb garden was getting to the end; but we did find the tribute to Carl Linneaus as he overlooked the tranquil lake.
We took the high walk through the steamy glasshouse, which proved to be much cooler at ground level, and found an area dedicated to carnivorous plants, where snails seem to be the regular food. At the end we did find the 'pantaloon' tree, an elm that has a divided trunk resembling a pair of inverted trousers!
We came back to our room for a short rest before taking our postcards to the restaurant/ cafe where we started with tapas, and progressed to main courses of steak and hake before calling it a day and collapsing into bed at nearly midnight. Another big day tomorrow with, hopefully the Thyssen and the Reina Sofa Museums to see.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Madrid - arrival

We flew in from London just a little late. We had dropped the car off with valet parking, narrowly avoiding arrest for following the signs to the wrong side of the drop off area! Breakfast was in the no1 Lounge, where we had cereal, yoghurt, pastries, a bacon roll (Alan) and coffee.
The metro into town was very good, two changes, but only a couple of minutes between trains. At our stop, Retiro, it was a two minute walk to the Hospes Madrid Hotel. We were soon booked in and unpacked before talking a walk in the park.
With Retiro Park just across the road, we decided to stroll down it's shady avenues, perhaps even getting as far as Sol. But the park was so interesting, we just managed to walk through by the Estanque, the boating lake with its impressive Monument to Alphonso XII and the numerous rowing boats hired by intrepid rowers; passed the Palacios de Velazquez with it's tiled friezes; around the lake with turtles and a great view of the Palacio de Crystal; into the Rosaleda and down to the statue, El Angel Caida, by Ricardo Bellver, believed to be the only public monument to the 'fallen angel', Lucifer, in the world.
We came out of the park onto Calle de Alphonso XII  and crossed over to see the Real Jardin Botanical, but the entrance was diagonally opposite, so we walked down Calle de Claudio Morano where we found a row of antiquarian book kiosks, some open and stuffed with all sorts of old books. At the bottom of the street is the Estacion de Atocha, the station which houses a tropical garden. It is an amazing place filled with palm trees and a pond just full of turtles. We stopped for light refreshment at a station cafe, before exiting again and heading up Paseo del Prado, sussing out where we will be coming tomorrow. We made it back to the hotel in time for a quick freshen up before we were due out to meet the people from Adventurous Appetites who were going to take us on a tapas tour.
We walked down to Puerto del Sol, taking in the architectural gems along Calle de Alcala as we went. As we came into the circle that is Puerto del Sol, we discovered the bear and the arbutus tree statue that is the symbol of the city. As we had some time to spare, we walked around the area and found the point where all distances in Spain are measured from.
Soon it was time to meet our guide who turned out to be a Dubliner called Paul. He definitely had the gift of the gab, and lead us on a merry tapas tour, with a running commentary of historic facts of the places we walked through, punctuating the walk with stop offs at various tapas bars from different regions of the country. We began with Asturias, sampling cider we had to pour from a height into a glass held down low, to give the cider the correct flavour! With this we had potato salad and Iberico ham. Paul suggested we then order some typical dishes - bread and cheese, tuna empanadas and some spicy chorizo, all very delicious, but we had to move on. It was decided that we should run a kitty with Paul, starting with twenty euros per person.
So off we set and we arrived at the plaza Major with its long buildings, touristic restaurants and horse mounted figure in the centre. Lots of chatter from Paul, including pointing out the oldest restaurant in works le Botin, from 17something. But we made tracks to a tapas bar that s famous for its delicatessen. The Walls and ceiling were lined with four kinds of am wrapped in blue, green, red and white coverings. They look like decoration, but apparently get used up in two months in a constant rota! Here we were introduced to Summer Wine. Not Sangria, which should be prepared a day or two in advance, but red wine with lemonade poured over ice and a slice of lemon. It was wonderfully refreshing. This came with sliced chorizo and whacking big green olives that were extremely tasty. We then ordered some of the ham - a sort of iberico, and manchega cheese. We placed a slice of ham on a slice of cheese and ate down to the rind of the cheese that then gets thrown on the floor with the olive stones and the tissues - all part of the experience, apparently. On we went, down interesting pedestrian streets passed several shops with tiled edifices. We came to one bar that Paul decided would be our next stop and here we chose some beer and wine to our taste. A bottle of Ribera del duero served us all coming with a dish of fresh salty prawns, and here Paul ordered (with our agreement) some green peppers, meat balls and for all the world Dutch croquet ten. What fun, especially as here we sat down for a while. It was already getting Kate, but once again we were off to see more interesting sights and bars, and down the street of letters to another bar where we waited to be seated.  Already we were reduced to six from eight, having lost one of the Canadian couples. Now we were choosing individual drinks as well as ordering a second round of tap water! More white wine for me and A to go with squid ( not for A), and mushrooms with lardons. But it was really getting late and we decided to call it a day, as did the Swedish couple, leaving Paul and the young Canadians to go on to find mojitos and maybe chocolate and churros to finish.  Back to the hotel to crash before our visit to the Prado tomorrow - or actually today!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

G Live opens

We approached the entrance to G Live with some excitement last evening as we were to attend the opening concert of this amazing new venue in Guildford. The famous orchestra, the LSO were playing an evening of Tchaikovsky under their conductor, the illustrious Valéry Gergiev.
The foyer was abuzz with concertgoers. Some were finishing meals in the Café-Bar and some had attended a champagne and canapés reception, while others had been to the pre-concert talk given by Guildford resident and principal flautist, Gareth Davies. The venue is an impressive building and we descended the stairs to entrance no.2 (tiered stalls), collecting a free programme on the way. The concert hall filled up and the audience noise increased; the orchestra entered and took their seats and then, as anticipated, a huge round of applause welcomed Valéry Gergiev to the platform. He quickly began the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy. The sound is very bright, with many individual instruments clearly audible such as the harp. The orchestra is, of course, world class and lived up to their reputation. The audience really appreciated their performance.
Now the scene changed as the grand piano was wheeled into place for the Piano Concerto no 1. The soloist, Daniil Trifonov,is the winner of the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition and was warmly welcomed by the audience. He sat and the conductor began the piece. It was spellbinding - until suddenly with a slight crack all the lights went out, leaving only the emergency lighting throughout the auditorium.
The music went on as battery powered lights were passed quietly out around the orchestra. They finished the first movement and received a standing ovation for their efforts. Discussion followed as some people left the auditorium, and much of the orchestra, too. Then young Mr. Trifonov sat down at the piano and played a Chopin Waltz. More ecstatic applause and then we all trooped out for an unscheduled interval.

The lights in the foyer were all on, but obviously lots of power was off as the door magnets were not working, nor the tills for a while and we had one moment when everything went black for just a second or two. It took about half an hour, but eventually we were called back to our seats and the MD of the management of G Live climbed onto the platform to explain that the venue had lost power but it was all alright now. He also told us that the orchestra would now reprise the 2nd and 3rd movements of the piano concerto despite their not having yet played it.There was also a comment from someone from Guildford Borough Council. Unfortunately it was all to clear to see that all was not well - there were no platform lights and the rest of the concert was performed with the house lights up.

Despite all this, the orchestra returned as did our intrepid soloist who performed the remaining movements of the piano concerto superbly, and received yet another ovation from the audience. We then moved quickly on to the final piece of the evening, Symphony No.4, which once again was played to the highest standards and rightly Valéry Gergiev received massive applause from the appreciative audience. It was a wonderful opening concert and to give G Live credit, they did invite everyone for a free drink as we left the auditorium. It was here that we stumbled across some old acquaintances from our time overseas. What a coincidence!

G Live

Friday, September 23, 2011

How do I create a Slideshow?

How do I create a Slideshow?

As Slide is in the process of retiring our applications and products, the ability to create new Slideshows has been disabled.

If you'd like to export any of your current Slideshows, we've built a utility to let you upload them to your Picasa album or your computer. Click HERE for instructions!

Remember, all your current content and Slideshows will be accessible until the shut down date of March 6, 2012.

So no more slideshows with slide and what to do with all those hundreds of embedded shows in Blogger accounts!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

G Live Guildford

G Live is open for visitors - this is the new venue in Guildford and from our visit today it looks wonderful. The first concert is on Saturday and we will be there to hear the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev. They are performing an evening of Tchaikovsky:  Romeo & Juliet Overture-Fantasy; Piano Concerto No.1; and  Symphony No.4. The pianist is the winner of the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, Daniil Trifonof.

We sampled coffe in the new cafe and enjoyed the setting - very light and bright. Can't wait 'til Saturday!

G Live

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dinner at Cau

After all our exertions at Great Dixter we walked into Guildford to try out a relatively new restaurant called Cau, which stands for Carne Argentina Única and is pronounced 'cow'. It prides itself on its beef from Argentina and it appears that there is just one other Cau restaurant in Europe and that's in Amsterdam.
The decor is stunning and the staff were very attentive. We started with some crispbread and dips - aubergine and spicy tomato, while we chose our steaks, sauces and sides. We went for the smallest portions - 8oz, and varied from rump to medallions and a rib eye. The sides included with the steaks were thin chips or salad, so two had chips and two had salad and the extras were two triple cooked chunky chips and peas! The sauces were blue cheese, horseradish and a herb and garlic aoli.
If you look at the menu you may wonder how we managed to pass on the side-walking crab salad or a
Tira de ancho at 18oz, but they do suggest it's perfect to share. (Phew! but there was one weighing in at 22oz, too.)

We chose the Malbrontes Malbec Torrontes to accompany the steaks and were not disappointed.
But that was all we managed, no puds from their delicious dessert menu and home for tea and a movie - RED with Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and a host of others, an amazing film.
One unusual item on the Cau drinks menu is the Clericot selection. Never heard of this one before, but it is a famous Argentinian wine-based drink served with either a half or full bottle of regional wine and local fruits. For example, Salta: Torrontes white wine mixed with red and white grapes, passion fruit purée and basil leaves. Could be we'll explore that road next time we visit!

Malbrontes - what Jancis Robinson has to say


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great Dixter

With all the wedding things being done, R&D came to stay the end of this week, arriving on Wednesday evening in time to share a delicious lamb tajine with couscous from Cook. Although they were at the wedding we hadn't had chance to do much catching up on their life in New England, so there was none stop chattering over dinner. Neither of us has been to visit Christopher Lloyd's Garden and house at Great Dixter, so the plan was to make a vaguely early start and spend the day in East Sussex.
We set off soon after 9.30 when. hopefully the traffic on M25 had subsided a little. The satnav did a good job and we got within a mile or so before finding the road closed. A was map reading and found an alternative route, but once again the road was closed and we needed to go even further off piste before eventually turning into the driveway and parking. There were several cars already parked, so plenty of people undeterred by the closure.
Great Dixter is the family home of the Lloyd family with its fifteenth century Great Hall, the largest surviving timber-framed hall in Great Britain. Christopher Lloyd's father, Nathaniel commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to restore the hall to its former medieval splendour in 1910; and to add necessary living quarters for the Edwardian household. He did this by adding a hall house from around 1500, which was about to be demolished in nearby Benenden. This hall house was taken apart and painstakingly reconstructed at Great Dixter, adjoining the Great Hall. It is magnificent and we all wished we could have seen more of the house - only getting to see the Great Hall, Christopher Lloyd's study and the Solar on the first floor. In a feature in The World of Interiors, March 2011, there are several photographs of other parts of the house, which look very interesting.

But before we visited the house we spent a long time walking through the several garden rooms that were created by Lutyens and Nathaniel Lloyd. Mr Lloyd sr was particularly responsible for the topiary, which is clipped as soon as possible during and after August, but can take until November to be completed, so that it maintains its shape through until the following late spring. We saw them trimming some of the bird topiary on our visit. The gardens encircle the house, giving lovely views of the house from every angle through the colourful planting. Lutyens designed the garden so you can make a natural progression through the various areas, completing a full circle. Whether you are in the Sunk Garden, the High Garden, the Long Border or the Exotic Garden and all places between, there is plenty to look at and admire with vibrant colours vying for attention. None of your white or pink borders here, orange and purple flowers, for example, grow side by side in profusion. We were bowled over by the bold tones. This is all coming from Christopher Lloyd, who returned to Great Dixter in 1954. He has written several books about his gardening philosophy, and also wrote a column in Country Life for 42 years, as well as contributing to the Guardian newspaper. This is definitely a labour intensive garden and several gardeners are employed here as well as some students who work alongside them. The students get to stay in the house, which is why much of it is off limits to the public.
It was a wonderful day out, and before leaving we sampled tea from the gift shop and refreshment area at the back of the nursery. The nursery sells some of its plants, though quite a few are only for use in the garden and not for sale.

Christopher Lloyd
Obituary 1
Obituary 2
Great Dixter

Monday, September 12, 2011


The bride and groom are away on honeymoon; the guests have left; family have dispersed to their homes. Presents and other detritus has been collected from the venue; washing has been done; our bags packed. The suits - all seven of them - have been returned and so there's nothing more to do. So it's time for us to head home, look at the photos and make a blog!
What a fabulous time, what fabulous memories!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

M & N's Big Day

The hairdresser was first on the scene, so while we had breakfast, S and M both had their hair fixed. After a short break the make-up lady arrived and began M's make-up - golden eyes and a lovely natural look. Suddenly we needed to be ready and to leave - S,D and me for the hotel then a taxi to Redhouse Barn; and M and Dad in a taxi straight to Redhouse Barn about half an hour later.
No ready rooms at the Hilton, but that was to be expected, so we left the cases on a trolley hoping they would put them in the rooms. After we saw a couple of friends, our taxi arrived and we whisked off to the venue, meeting up with A and M there.

The tables looked beautiful, and the cake had also arrived from Alexander Taylor's in Guildford. They had iced the three tiered family recipe fruit cakes. It was a fantasy of flowers and butterflies and one caterpillar and looked gorgeous. The choir, Enchant, were rehearsing and soon N and his Bestman, A arrived, so M retired up to the room upstairs. The photographer, Nick of Boundless Photos, came up and after a couple of photos arranged to return when we were lacing up the dress. Some friends came up to see M, and soon it was time to get her into the dress, lace it up, more photos and then in came the registrars for the all important pre-wedding chat and formalities. One last check of M's sash, and I went down to take my place in the ceremony room, catching up with family and friends on the way. Nearly everyone was seated, the registrars took their seats and the doors were closed. A hush came over us as the music filled the room - YoYo Ma playing the first of the Bach Cello suites; then the doors were opening and A and M walked in, down the aisle between the seats to where N was waiting; and with a light kiss, A handed M over to N and the ceremony began. The choir, Enchant, sang Purcell's 'If music be the food of love', the registrar took M & N through the vows and exchange of rings and then Laura and Charlie read ' by W H Auden 'O Tell me the truth about love'. Now it was time to sign the register as Enchant sang The Guillemots' Made up love song #34. Following the official signing, M & N moved round the table, took up a fancy quill pen and posed for photos, but soon the registrars were ready and presented them with their marriage certificate. The music began agin, this time the introduction to 'All you need is love'heralded the end of the ceremony and N & M smiling hugely, exited to the choir singing, and into the champagne reception.
Fizz and canapes circulated among the guests as a well ordered procession of photographs was taken on the lawn - a windy location, but it remained dry until the last group were captured by the camera - Boundless Photos taking boundless numbers of photos. The 22 children were well entertained with their party bags. We were called to take our seats in the so far secret other side of the barn, using the table plan and M's maps to find the right location. Everyone was delighted at the sight of the tables and soon discovered where they were sitting and when we were all settled, the Master of Ceremonies, Andy, called on us to welcome the new Mr & Mrs. The staff of Redhouse Barn now served us the delicious wedding breakfast prepared by Chef Anthony of Morgans - the level of service was excellent and the food outstanding.

Tian of lightly smoked trout and crushed avocado with cucumber pickle and a citrus dressing
(v) Quinoa Salad

Mint Lemonade

Roast rack of lamb with creamed celeriac, marjaoramand garkic crust with redcurrant and port sauce
(v) Mushroom risotto on butternut squash

Panache of vegetables and potatoes

Dessert Trio
Raspberry crème brûlée
Iced lemon posset with fresh berries and a tuille biscuit
Summer berry jelly

Tea & coffee, fudge and petit fours

As the dessert was cleared away, Andy introduced the speeches, first A, Bride's father, then N, the Groom and finally A, the Bestman; and with that out of the way, N & M cut the cake.

The room was partially cleared and the Ceilidh Band, Burdock, set up so the dancing could begin and we danced to midnight when a taxi swept M & N off to the hotel and the rest of us boarded the bus and followed them at a much more sedate pace. What a lovely, lovely day it has been, so full of friends, families and memories.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Cupcakes Galore!

Today we made cupcakes for the wedding breakfast. These are going to be for the gluten free guests and the children and M and I got into a great rhythm, weighing out, mixing, filling the cupcake cases, getting them into the oven for barely fifteen minutes, then out onto cooling racks to repeat the performance about six times. We made around eighty and picked out the best sixty to decorate once they had cooled. M has made beautiful icing decorations to sit on the butter cream frosting. Then we sprinkled them with glitter and boxed them up ready to take to Redhouse Barn tomorrow. A & D went off to meet S from the airport, N's family arrived for a cuppa before whisking him away with several suits to the Bromsgrove Hilton where a little later, we met for a delicious dinner along with several friends and other family. Then we came home for some well earned rest before The Big Day tomorrow.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Nails and stuff

Thursday was nail day while the chaps went off to collect the seven morning suits from Peter Posh. M and I walked down to Urban Tonic where Charlotte did a brilliant job of making the bride's nails look wonderful for the wearing of the ring on Saturday. Then we made a trip over to Redhouse Barn for a final check in with the wonderful people there. All the amazing ceramics, books, maps and other printing, chocolate buttons, leaves etc. that will make up the table decorations, not to mention the neatly rolled and be-ribboned napkins were delivered. For the centre of each table there is a Particle Article from Clare Benson and Amy Nightingale. There are also the party bags for the 22 children who are expected. The dress is hanging in the Bride's retiring room - we forgot the sashes, but N & A can take those tomorrow when they test out the laptop connection. Then it was back home to prepare the BBQ and down to the station to collect A from the train. Nearly everyone is here now. It is getting exciting.

Urban Tonic
Peter Posh
Redhouse Barn
Particle Articles

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

At the MAC, Moseley

Tonight we visited the Anticurate no 6 exhibition at the MAC in Moseley. Mel had her Molecular Pebbles in the exhibition as she had been chose for the third and fourth shows in the series. This is the final show and is on until Sunday. By then the artist will be married and off on honeymoon with N.
All this was after a busy day tying up loose ends for the Big Day on Saturday followed by a couple of hours down at Redpoint Climbing Centre. What fun, but hard on the arms and hands. Luckily nothing broken - not even a nail, which M has been preserving for our manicures tomorrow morning.

Redpoint Climbing Centre
The Mac, Moseley