A Bicycle Ride & Afternoon Tea

Living in Cambridge gives me every excuse to travel by bicycle. In a city where there are more bikes than cars and the cycle lanes fill up the streets, you could look out of place without a bike.

Dutch Bike

We haven’t had a car for 6 years now, (get us – eco friendly!) so my custom Dutch bike gets me around and ensures I can access all the best places to take tea in the city. This weekend, the boyfriend, the bike and I, took trip along the river to the Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester, Cambridge.

Many people punt along the river to the historic team rooms, which are surrounded by meadows and beautiful countryside. We took a little walk once we arrived in Grantchester and passed some stunning cottages topped with thatched roofs with pretty gardens infront. Quintessentially English.

English Cottages in Grantchester

Wandering past the idylic meadows, we found gardens and passageways with pretty flowers and trees. How lovely is this classic lamppost and spiralling tree branches?

English Summer Flowers

As we approached the orchard, the clouds gathered over head and we wondered if we would be able to take our tea outside with the rest of the visitors. It was 2pm and the gardens were starting to get busy with tourists.

The orchard was first planted in 1868 and first became a tea garden by chance. A group of Cambridge students began the traditional of taking tea in the orchard in 1897 and The Orchard Tea Garden was born.

Orchard Tea Rooms, Grantchester, Cambridge

We opted for tea and a scone to share. They were GIANT! Clotted cream and jam were a must. We debated whether cream or jam was spread first.

Afternoon Tea

I was slightly disappointed to learn that the tea wasn’t loose leaf, but the queues were rather long, so I forgave them. The scone was utterly delicious and I couldn’t help peeking at other tables with lunch plates and fresh cakes. There were plenty of birds enjoying the orchard with us.

Afternoon Tea

We spent a good two hours in the orchard enjoying our tea and remarking how lucky we are to live in Cambridge. Moments like these make me realise how the traditions, history and beautiful settings confirm we chose the right place to live.

We’ve decided to make a list of all the things we want to enjoy in Cambridge; some touristy, some simple and some magical. I love lists. One of these list items includes a sub list of 5 other places to take tea. I am sure I’ll be sharing these with you in blog posts to come.

Finally, we took a wet cycle home along the river (typical English summer!) and arrived back to this little fluff ball who had wedged herself into the bean bag.

A blog debut for our persian cat Tammy 🙂

Persian Cat Tammy

Where are your favourite places to have tea?

Claire x

In My Bag

Here are the items I carry around in my beloved Cambridge Satchel bag…..

  • Bespoke phone case (Cath Kidston fabric)
  • Eye gel. I seriously need this stuff for the dreaded dark circles.
  • Watermelon tic tacs. These things taste amazing.
  • Personalised notebook. I have about 4 different notebooks on the go at once as well as the Evernote app, which always gets neglected for handwritten lists.
  • Natural lipbalm. A friend sent me this handmade lip balm from Canada and I loved it so much I ordered about 10 more. This one is dulce latte flavour mmm.
  • Bobbypin by Mummybirdpretties kindly sent to me in a set from Claire, a fellow Cambridge maker.
  • Mini Sharpie.  I love a Sharpie.
  • Cath Kidston bike seat cover. This is a must in the UK where it never stops raining & I only get around on my dutch bike.
  • Crochet Practice. My next crochet course is Granny Squares so I always try to get a bit of practice in when I can.

There were also loose coins, random notes about my prescription, work notebooks, anti-bac hand gel and other equally boring things!

What do you carry in your bag?

Claire x

Red Velvet Brownies

The origin of the Red Velvet cake is much debated, but anyone who loves a baked good has no doubt tried a cupcake, cream cheese frosted cake or whoopie pie of the Red Velvet variety. In my opinion they are far too tasty/pretty to ponder over where the recipe once began. Surely time is better spent eating the treats? 😉

So what makes a Red Velvet bake red? Cocoa contains a natural pigment called anthocyanin, which will react with acids such as buttermilk to provide a red shade. Cool food sciencey stuff, really. Buttermilk is almost always included in a traditional Red Velvet recipe, but red colouring is often added to provide a more vibrant shade.

My brownie recipe does not contain buttermilk, but I recently purchased some fabulous new food colourings and I needed an excuse to try them out in one of my favourite colours. So here goes with my ‘Red Velvet’ brownies!

Red Velvet brownies

Makes 10 small brownies or 6 bigger pieces. Freezes well!

Red Velvet Brownie Ingredients 2

Begin by melting the chocolate and butter over a saucepan of hot water – heat gently until smooth, stirring throughout.

Red Velvet Brownies melt butter and chocolate

Red Velvet Brownies melted butter and chocolate

Then mix in the caster sugar, followed by the plain flour. Stir until combined.

Beat the eggs and add gradually. I found that I added a little too much (1 is probably enough, but it depends on the size of your eggs), and I ended up having to add more flour right at the last stage.

Then add the RED! I use food colouring paste (rather than the liquids you can buy in supermarkets) as they give a more vivid colour. I used heaps as I wanted a deep colour, but you can try it out. Note that my mixture is still a little runny (and bubbly!) here, so you can add more flour if necessary.

Cook in a pre-heated oven for around 30 minutes. I tend to do mine for less as I have a fan oven and I like them squidgy in the middle.

I think this is a recipe I will continue to develop, in terms of consistency and redness. I used fairtrade dark chocolate, which affected how vibrant the red was. Perhaps just using cocoa powder will give a brighter shade.

Regardless, they are pretty tasty and I like the deep red!

Red Velvet Brownies

Claire x

 

Happy International Yarn Bombing Day

I recently discovered that June 9th is International Yarn Bombing Day. The origins of yarn bombing (or knit graffiti) are often debated, but it is said to have begun in Texas, USA in 2005. Colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn are displayed in public places, often by anonymous crafters.

It got me thinking about whether I would ever have the confidence or skills to participate in a yarn bombing. What motivates people? Is it just a fun way to express creativity, or are there statements to be made? Whatever the idea behind a yarn bomb, it sure is a fun way to decorate a street or item, and it’s bound to make people stop and smile.

My yarn bombing research led me to rediscover all the recent knit graffiti I had seen online and in the national and local news.

Some of you may have seen the recent press about guerrilla knitwear artist Olek’s crocheted outfits for Anthony Gormley sculptures on Crosby Beach, Merseyside. Although the sculptures have been on the beach since 2005, Olek wanted to transform the sculptures into something new. She says “By covering them and giving them a new skin, I made them more alive”. Would this be the same for a tree? Or a railing? I know if I discovered a branch covered in a multicoloured plethora of yarn, it would certainly make me notice the tree when I would have otherwise walked on by.

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It’s said to be technically illegal to yarn bomb (considered a form of graffiti), but many local knitting groups are embracing the trend and I even discovered a recent yarn bomb in the nearby city of Norfolk.

The Norfolk Ninja Knitters spruced up lamposts and sculptures outside the City Hall, but sadly the council removed the yarn bombs 🙁

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These yarn bombs I found on Pinterest are really inspiring….

I love this London phone box, with Big Ben as the backdrop!

Source: www.knitthecity.com / Image © Knit the City

This one would really make people think twice about dodging parking fees…..

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I wonder how long this tree yarn bomb took?

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Have you spotted a great yarn bomb in your area? Have you ever yarn bombed?

Claire x