Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Walk in Barcelona #3

Barcelona Cafe Design
Who's changed? You or I?

Of course, it's both of us - my skeleton as usual, your frame, the same but of truly ourselves? The light and shadows fall between us the same way it always did and yet I have forgotten the emotion of this city and it has forgotten mine.

I can't quite get my head in any place - here, home, elsewhere. My feet pound, feeling every step, every heart beat and they burn - an indication I've walked too far and with nowhere in mind.  

And so I seek shade and take a snapshot of who I once was, in a place I once lived.

A flickering flashback.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Walk in Barcelona #2

Traditional Churros in Barcelona
Even if I lived in Barcelona for the rest of my life, I'd spend those days revered as a guiri; a tourist. Prejudice sticks to me like fair hair plastered on my rosied, balmy face.

And so a tourist was exactly who I was. I picked up my iphone  camera and calmly lingered in doorways, hovered in reflections and slipped away with the swell.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Walk in Barcelona #1

Old Fashioned Barcelona Hat Shop
When I arrived in Barcelona, I was greeted by an almighty twilight thunderstorm.

I had forgotten how very loud you were - from the deafening roar of the weather, to the calls and cries of the small night streets - a clattering din in the dark.

I gave up trying to sleep and, peeling myself from the bed, took to the city, falling quietly into a step at once as familiar as it was strange.

Warm lights-lit glared golden in the windows of shops with overcast and gauzy reflections. 

I need a coffee, I thought.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Cat's Life | Photos from Late Summer

Kitchen Still Life
After such skies and rain, there was little else to do but cook for the hoard that stormed into our house over the weekend and sit for hours at the table musing.
Celia's Saucer
During brief moments of sunshine, I nipped out for ingredients or fleeting coffee meetings - discovering new places and people when I hadn't expected to.
Holloway Road Fishmongers

Indonesian Cooking with Celia's Saucer
I tried my hand at Indonesian cuisine - whipping up this Gado Gado, which is full of simple flavours but takes patience to co-ordinate when hungry mouths are waiting to eat.

I also resorted to an old favourite, Sweetcorn Chowder - such an easy recipe that I picked up from the lovely ladies at Ez and Moss cafe on Holloway Road. 
Soup Recipes from Celia's Saucer
Of course, all visitors are subjected to a stroll to Ruby Violet for ice cream (it saves me the hassle of having to make pud!)  - I especially enjoyed the English Lavender and mused that rose might make a nice, light flavour.
Lavender Ice Cream
The Cafe Cat Photography
Tufnell Park Ice Cream Parlour
What do you think might make a lovely late summer ice cream?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Summer Drinks Festival

A long, hot summer makes for thirsty work and where cheaper to stock up on premium spirits than at the airport where top branded bottles come duty free? After the holidays and now that we're moving late into the season, there's no better reason than ever to bring a taste of summer inspiration home with you.

World Duty Free has teamed up with leading mixologist, Charlie McCarthy, to create and blend some of the season's best flavours in a month-long campaign that has seen some of my favourite bloggers recreating their very own.

Below you'll find the line up and I'm sure you'll stick around to tell me which one tickles your fancy?
I've a good mind to try them all.

First up, we have the Queen's Blush from Tom at Daydream in Blue with vodka, strawberry and basil making an appearance... A sweet and sour sip, I'm sure.

Summer Drinks Festival with World Duty Free - Vodka

The charming, Fifi McGee, tried her hand at a Hendrick's Floradora to warm her new home with friends... She confesses that she can't remember much except for loving the rose petal and raspberry hues.

Summer Drinks Festival with World Duty Free - Gin

 While Laura at Heroine in Heels took to the park with friends to get her shake on with a Pink 76...

Summer Drinks Festival with World Duty Free - Vodka & Cointreau

The lovely Erica got a shakin' at home in her kitchen with pals -expertly mixing cointreau with champagne, Belvedere vodka and pomegranate juice.


Selena from Selena the Places went on a long walk to the heath with her loved one and basked in the sunshine, suitably supping an English Garden cocktail complete with gin, apple juice and a touch of elderflower.

Summer Drinks Festival with World Duty Free - Gin and Elderflower

Monica, aka The Travel Hack, threw a big party for her Australian pal and put all hands on deck to recreate the Old Cuban and a classic mojito. Apparently there were many more pictures throughout the night - I think she ought to do an outtake post, don't you?


Certainly the most intriguing of the Summer Drinks Festival has to be La Tomatina, lovingly crafted by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. Inspired by a festival where a hoard of Spaniards lob tomatoes at one another, it shouts SUMMER! and sunkissed flavours in a glass and is, I imagine, the perfect Sunday brunch aperitif (read 'hair of the dog').

World Duty Free Summer Drinks Festival - Tomato
Of course, Samantha from Thoroughly English took to the rooftop of her South London pad to take in the views now she lives in the capital and chose the Peachy Keen - sweet, fruity flavours with the warm undercurrent kiss of Southern Comfort to complement the Turner-esque summer skies. 
World Duty Free Summer Drinks Festival - Southern Comfort
Helen at the Crazy Kitchen found herself hot and flustered baking back in July and so squirreled away to a peaceful corner of her garden to enjoy the taste of an Aperol Spritz in the fading light of the evening- just as she might during an Italian sunset where this cocktail is very popular.
Summer Drinks Festival
I even found myself getting in on the action with a bottle of aged golden Bacardi and a cocktail shaker. I'd forgotten how enjoyable cocktails can be as part of a long Sunday lunch with my mother and sister, who kept stealing my masterpiece before I could get a good pic! I'm also lucky enough to cultivate a huge hierba buena (spearmint) plant in my garden, which is vital for an authentic rum cocktail and speaks of warmer climes. 
Summer Drinks Festival - Rum
It's been a tough decision but next time, I'll be trying my hand at La Tomatina cocktail, closely following the You Tube cocktail tutorial playlist expertly provided by World Duty Free below. For me, the earthy taste of sun-ripened tomatoes perfectly captures a balmy British summer - just perfect in the rain and shine. 

What about you? Which of the above would be your summer poison?

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A Weekend Walk #9

Canterbury Goods Shed
Kent Cats in the Shed
Rain, Sunshine and Clouds
Hydrangeas and Roadside Flowers
Apple Crates Kent
Shottenden Garden
Ice Cream Parlour North London
A weekend well spent between Kent and London started with a vibrant and lively business meeting at the Goods Shed, Canterbury, regarding our unique company culture and how we can maintain this in an intense period of growth and change- cocktails from the Wild Goose bar were helpful in lubricating minds. Possibly my favourite place in Canterbury, the tucked away nature of the food hall means that the atmosphere is calm and subdued. Perfect for starting the evening and marveling at the beautiful architecture of the old railway building as the sun sets.

I spent Saturday enjoying the wonderfully tempestuous and moody weather that spectacularly saw the skies dance between rain and sunshine like a mad tango. Walking through the orchards at Shottenden, I wondered when I might move away from London back to such a place, if at all? All I know is that I certainly feel more at home there than I ever did elsewhere - it has truly stolen my heart and refused to give it back in its entirety.

Back in London today, we ate a hearty Moroccan lunch (lamb meatballs in a date, almond and tomato sauce if you must know) in the downpour and strolled to Tufnell Park's Ruby Violet for ice cream in the fierce hazy beams of a triumphant sun.

Tonight seeks concentration for some written work promised a long time ago now and a prawn, coconut and butternut squash curry to tend to.

Do stay a while and tell me what you got up to? Did you get caught in the rain? Did you get out of the city? And above all, did you wish it was autumn as much I did?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Freixenet Cava | Little Things

Not one for overblown gestures, it's all in the smaller pleasures for me - from a beautifully written note to an old habit, like wrapping my hands around a cup of takeaway coffee in the morning and taking a long sip.

 Life in Barcelona was all about enjoying small moments with food, drink, sunshine and friends but in London, I often feel as if the culture 'wastes' no time and it can be a balancing act to get work and pleasure in equal measure; constantly reminding yourself to shut off your emails and to spend time with those you love, if they happen to have nothing planned a million years in advance, that is.

Freixenet, cava purveyors hailing from Barcelona, Catalonia, recently held an intimate and generous event to open their new campaign, focused around the little things in life and inspired by research that shows that, as Brits, we admit that we plan too much of our social lives rather than enjoying the spontaneity of impromptu celebrations. Bottles of Freixenet Cava cooling on ice
Atop the roof of the Queen of Hoxton, a small group of us were invited to enjoy Catalan-style food as the sun set over the city and were attended to generously with cocktails inspired by the Freixenet range and a wealth of knowledge about the cava itself. 
The sunset from the rooftop at the Queen of Hoxton
Tapas with FreixenetPaella, churros and cocktails
The views were captivating, the company a pleasure and the food a delicious backdrop - it was if I were back in Barcelona and this was owed especially to the cava itself, which, to me, is the lubricant of a great gathering.
Cava Cocktails
 Working in PR, for me, this was an exceptionally well-thought out and executed evening accompanied by an inspiring campaign. As such, Freixenet essentially introduced the Mediterranean culture from which their product hails and combined it with the needs of us time-poor Brits.

Releasing a series of short videos about unexpected little things that give us a kick, a boost and a smile, you can follow and join in the conversation on their social media channels and watch my favourite from the lot below.

 Some of the little things I like the most are:

- The warm stillness and electric smell just before the rain at the end of a hot spell of weather

- Small kindnesses - an old Indian man who spoke no English sharing his sweets with me on a long train journey

- Pretty pops of colour and nature in urban spaces

What about you? What little things make you smile?

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