Thursday, 30 August 2012

Raymond Blanc an Amazing Day

What a great time we had as winners of the Raymond Blanc Can Can competition. When we arrived at brasserie blanc we were offered a drink and asked if we would like to eat after the cookery demonstration. If we preferred we could come back later in the evening for our complementary three course meal as part of our prize.

Then Raymond arrived and came an spoke to each of us before meeting his chefs for a brief chat before the demo started.

A visit to the busy kitchen

Our gang

Outside on the terrace Raymond stirred up his magic creating wonders with mackerel and fennel.


Everything was explained in detail and we had printed recipes on the tables. We  also got to sample the different courses as they were cooked. One of the great things about the day was that anyone could watch this cookery demonstration completely free. Raymond had been tweeting about it during the morning and inviting people to come and watch.

Summer Berry Pavlova

The Summer Berry Pavlova that was whipped up in no time was very hard to pass on to other eager hands. It was truly delicious and the passion Raymond has for the food he makes is inspiring.

Chocolate Mousse `Maman Blanc`

What can I say expect this was wonderful chocolate mousse made from dark good quality chocolate, whipped egg whites and a little lemon juice and sugar. Raymond is such a gent and his staff are all as really nice.

Ann grabs a kiss on the cheek

One of the lovely things about the day was meeting other compers like @SuperluckyDi and @twydalldee. We also met a couple my daughter Katrina and I cooked with at The Waitrose Cookery School in January.

Another bonus for some of my star struck family members was seeing Russell Brand go into brasserie blanc during the demonstration on the terrace. He and his friend seemed to make a reservation and then come out again. I wasn`t quick enough with the camera to catch a photo of him.

Time for dinner

We then had our meal in the stunning resturant complete with candlelight and excellent service.  I chose Pea and herb soup, Salmon and summer veg and of course the chocolate mousse. A glass of wine and a wonderful memorable afternoon was enjoyed by everyone in our group of nine. My family treated me to Raymond new book Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc which he signed for me.

Max sums up the day

Our winning photo

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Raymond Blanc Tomorrow

Super excited to be going to meet Raymond Blanc tomorrow we won a cookery demonstration and a meet with Raymond via a competition.  The competition was to celebrate Raymond opening a new restaurant in Covent Gardens. You had to send in a photo doing the Can Can and this our photo.

The Boys

As you can see these guys are a good laugh and the photo was taken at my son Mark and Daughter-in-law Dawns wedding.  Mark is third right and my other son Anthony is far left.  As they were all wearing kilts the Can Can seemed a great photo opportunity.  Love the faces on them all and the Welsh Dragon undies. The wedding was in a castle in Wales hence the dragon.

Now I am not really sure if they feed us or not tomorrow or if we simply watch a demonstration smile and leave. I certainly hope that we get to try making whatever we see and then try eating it with a little french wine. The lads will be heading straight for Mcdonalds otherwise and giving me a bit of light hearted grief.  Will post some photos and let you know how it  all went.

Friday, 24 August 2012


The Famous Egyptian Staircase

Teddy play the music please - the teddy bsndstand

Katrina  in Harrods

When we went to Harrods ( which used to jokingly be called Fayed`s corner shop) recently to look around we sprayed perfume on our wrists in the lovely beauty department. Then gazed longingly at the bags set out like coloured precious jewels in glass cases.   Next stop was the music department where   pianos can cost as much as a house and music systems are for the seriously rich. We have a tiny £5 limit to spend when we are in Harrods and Katrina my daughter and I can spend hours in there. Our  money usually goes on a coffee or hot chocolate so we can spend a little longer people watching.

The top floor restaurant is way beyond our budget but its great to have a little look at and the tables are usually set for afternoon tea.  Grand old ladies with hats and gloves laid perfectly on the empty chairs beside them chat and sip earl grey. The music is soft and the decor suits the crisp white linen tablecloths. Another era on the floor above the toy store that's Harrods for you. 


If I ever get to be a granny I could max out a couple of credit cards in the nursery department quite easily. I want a rocking horse, the lovely white crib, the soft toys, the safari animals and the adorable clothes. Good job for my bank balance my eldest seems happy with ducks chickens and donkeys. 

In the food hall we watched a lady taking sneaky photos of the decorated cakes on her mobile phone. The bars that circle the food hall selling oysters and smoothies were full and Americans bought tins featuring red buses and postboxes by the armful. Shall we tell them you can get them in the pound shop? No that would spoil the joy of a Harrods shopping bag.  

Trafalgar Square

I am off to North Wales for the Bank Holiday weekend and will be back with my camera in London next week. Have a great weekend everyone especially if you are going to the Nottinghill Festival I shall be sorry to miss it this year.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Amazing South Bank

Our Merlin Cards finish this week so I am making the most of them why we can.  As I never tire of the view from the London Eye that is where I headed with my daughter Katrina yesterday. Merlin cards can be an economical way of seeing the sights if you go to London regularly. It costs £17.50 to go on the London Eye for one person. The Aquarium and Eye costs £35. A Merlin Card when on offer can cost £85 and can be used all year. Use as often as you like and also you get into Theme Parks, Legoland etc. I am not sponsored by Merlin I just find having a card economical.   

London Eye

The queues for the eye can be quite long so I try to go late afternoon when it doesn`t seems quite so busy.

Big Ben and HOP

Who can resist the Carousel

The South Bank always has something going on with buskers fairground rides and entertainers to keep the crowds happy.

Busker on the Bridge

Taking a packed lunch and buying a cheap all day travel card and London is ours for the day. It is on our doorstep  really just thirty minutes by train aren`t we lucky. When we moved from Southport Merseyside ten years ago I thought I would never settle in the South. I missed the beach and the people. Now I can`t imagine not living close to London.

Leicester Square

Then it was off to Bella Italia for dinner with our Tesco vouchers before the theatre with our £15.00 tickets.  I buy most of my theatre tickets from the theatre saga site as I find you get better seats than No you do not have to be old to buy tickets from the saga site if that's what you are thinking. We went to see Mama Mia in Leicester Square which is a brilliant funny musical. As a frugal tourist you can see a lot in London.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Patient Fisherman

Once the office work was done today I was out looking for photos opportunities to try out my new camera I wasn`t in London today I was in St Albans which is not to far from where I live.

Archie waits patiently while I snap the Heron

The patient fisherman

This lovely Heron was as still as stone while he waited for his dinner to pass by. I didn`t get the lighting right on the water but I was still pleased to get the Heron with the duck staying just out of his reach.

I`m off

This cheeky geese got some bread the swan had earmarked for himself then hot footed it away.

 Shall we get away from the riff raff?

The trees are starting to change colour

Although the sun is warm today and the forecast looks good for the weekend the trees are already starting to change colour. Where did summer go then? scary isn`t it how quickly we are looking into Autumn.

I hope that's bread in that bag

It is a lovely park and St Albans is an interesting place full of Roman history Tudor buildings and good shops. It is a city but a very small one and the Cathedral is worth a visit and inside you will find the Abbott's cafe which is very nice.  It is only half an hour on the train from London. Jamie Oliver has opened a Jamie's Italian in St Albans although I haven`t managed to go yet probably because I haven`t won a meal there. I have heard its excellent and do have it on my wish list.  

Zoom works well - Rooftops

Talking of wins I have won yet more tickets to the Paralimpics this time for swimming which is one of the sports I really wanted to see. Really pleased with that. My social life would be almost non-existent without comping and I love winning tickets to things.  There is a an exciting blogging comp to visit Japan which I know some people would love to win. For me though I wouldn`t be entering that one as I`m more a weekend in Europe kind of girl.

I will be writing about London again in a few days because I want to tell you about some of the great shows I have seen recently. I never spend more than £25 on a theatre ticket and am addicted to the theatre. I am sure in another life I would have worked on stage sets or costumes. Maybe I will be one of the old theatre ghosts who stand at back and watch every performance not for a very long time of course.

The bright lights of London.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral is situated very close to the Tower of London and is a beautiful Cathedral. In competition for visitors with the many other wonderful buildings in London it can be forgotten. Do make the effort to see Southwark as the arched ceilings alone are impressive.

 The Cathedral closes at 6 pm and there is a £4 charge to take photographs which is used towards the upkeep of the building. As it was quite late when I arrived I didn`t really have time to appreciate all it has to offer. A tomb where a lady has been laid to rest in a slightly elevated position next to her husband to show she was of a higher class says a lot about our history. Our preoccupation with class extending into the tomb. 

The arches in the cathedral and the arched ceiling give the impression of a never ending path leading to stained glass windows. It is very effective at drawing the eye towards the altars.

Cathedral windows

 The stained glass windows reflect the sunset over the nearby Thames and the main feeling is soothing. Candles burn along the passages and side alters with small statues offer a private place to say a prayer or two. It seemed a little intrusive to be taking photos in such a tranquil place but at the same time it is irresistible.

Southwark Cathedral

I will certainly go back to find out more about Southwark and spend a bit more time there. I am not religious but I love taking photos of Cathedrals as they are so impressive and say so much about our past.

Organ at southwark

I really like social history and find Cathedrals interesting as the building of them usually takes more than one generation. I argue with myself about if they were good for the ordinary people in that they provided work but was it more a case of work or starve.  The legacy is stunning so I do hope that people did get a fair deal.

London is still buzzing from the Olympics and flags are still flying waiting for the Paralympics to start on 29th August.

Flags flying


Monday, 13 August 2012

London - back to fabulous

Now the athletes are heading home and it is a few weeks before the  Paralympics start I thought a walk through some of Londons everyday wonders would be good.  The games have been magnificent and I can`t wait to go to some of the Paralympic events I have tickets for but  for now Londons own interesting places is enough.

Westminister Abbey

Modern Sculpturs

Famous statures

Skylines and Towers

Rooftops of Parliment

London Bridge

I am getting a new camera on Wednesday and look forward to taking it out and about and seeing what I can capture. I am also going to a cookery masterclass by none other than Raymond Blanc on 29th so that should be interesting. I will make sure I get plenty of photos.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Meet the Gran Kids, four legged and webbed feet kind.

Alex the Donkey

Alex blocks my way into the chicken house. You will give me something first even though I have a whole field of grass to eat! no arguing with that then.

 Sarron waits eagerly for his walk

Do hurry up with all this food an water malarky on the field. I want to go and chase the rabbits.


Want me to do a backflip? roll over? do the dying fly act? give us a biscuit then and I will.
Three of the six ducks

Right when she comes in here to open the gate you get the left foot, I`ll get the right and you can go straight for the backside.

I call this one Brenda

The boss hen of the six I call her Brenda after a boss I once had who got her feathers ruffled easily.

Toggsie the goat

Trouble this one should have been called he likes nothing better than to wreck the chicken and duck houses given a chance. He is a right character and very funny to watch.

There was a worm there I saw it

Alex in a bad mood

Time for a dip

I am in Wales looking after my son Mark and daughter-in-laws Dawns lovely home and animals while they are away for a few days. 

The sun is shining today and last night as I walked the dogs I saw a stunning sunset.


The views are lovely around here and it is easy to get used to the quiet of the countryside.

View from the lane just outside


Must go and walk the dogs now though so I can ignore the countryside and watch the Olympics.