Sunday, 29 November 2009

You can run but you can't catch me

Gardengirl is very busy baking, sewing, and running N0.9, so this is the second guest blog by Mr Gardengirl.

The village is building up to the festive period and the switching on of the Christmas lights took place yesterday, which also marks the window display competition.

For this the girl decided on a Gingerbread Man theme.

Did she

a) Order them from the internet?
b) Purchase them from John Lewis?
c) Spend every night for the last week making them by hand, with limited help from me?

She started with Brown felt and scissors

Then the smile, buttons and heart were added. The eyes were out sourced to a man, as you can clearly tell.

Next came the filling and sewing together.

The night before deployment, a team meeting was held to discuss 'Operation Dangle'. All the boys were there........

...and the plan was put into place at 1700hrs on Friday

Everyone was in place, however when we returned on Saturday morning some of the candy canes had disappeared and nobody knew where they had gone.

To answer the most popular questions during Saturday trading
1) Yes, they are handmade.
2) No, they are not edible.
3) No, they are not for sale.
4) Yes, she is very talented
5) Yes, it was me who sewed on the eyes, yes the wonky ones, really all of them.

Gardengirl will return to blogland shortly, mostly likely in the new year.
In the meantime you can up with goings on via my Twitter musings, you can find me as Beakery.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Two glasses of champagne and please note the rosy cheeks!

Cocktail making ingredients above, and below, making mojitos...

Just a few tame photos of the drunken celebrations from our first birthday party! Much champagne was consumed, giggling was done and 'remember when' conversations took place.
None of us can quite believe how quickly the last year has flown by. We have been lucky to have had so much support from all of our lovely customers, and fabulous staff. We have a great team surrounding us who all work so hard, and it is down to their help as well that No.9 has been such a success. Rest assured they were rewarded!
I thought I would share a conversation with you from my (very) early morning visit to the supermarket today. I had to go and buy a few provisions on the way to work and decided at the last minute to add a couple of bottles of pear cider to the basket for when I got home tonight.
At that time of morning, and being a very small supermarket, you have to pay at the cigarette kiosk. So I wandered over to the kiosk and stood there for a couple of minutes whilst waiting to be served. One of the shop assistants stood feet away from me with her back to me, piling up the newspapers onto a stand. Eventually another assistant from further down the shop saw me with hand on hip and raised eyebrow, and called to the girl
"There's someone at the counter Chelsea!" she turned, saw me and replied,
"Yeah, I know, I'm nearly done now"
By now there were two more people behind me int he queue, sighing and impatient as well, waiting to pay. Chelsea then finished doing the newspapers and decided to wheel her now empty cart to the front of the store before coming to serve us. On the way she clocked the pear cider by now on the counter.
"Is that ALCOHOL?" she practically shouted from the front of the store. I looked around to make sure she was definitely talking to me.
"Um, yes, it is alcohol" I replied.
"Well you can't buy it, it's ILLEGAL!" she shouted. The woman in the queue behind me started giggling and I was ready to sink into the floor.
"Well believe me I'm more than old enough, unfortunately" I said, thinking Chelsea must have thought I was under age.
"No, it's illegal to buy it, the law SAYS SO. It's ILLEGAL to buy alcohol before 8am. MIKE! MIKE! I was just saying, It's ILLEGAL to buy alcohol at this time of morning, isn't it?!"
Mike nodded in agreement.
Good grief. I wanted to die. Everyone that was coming into the store was looking at me whilst she continued yelling.
"You'll have to go and put it back Madam, it's illegal. Or wait fifteen minutes and buy it then instead" I stood and stared at her, as she was by now in front of me and positioned at the till. I took a deep breath, and counted to five.
"I don't really have time to wait fifteen minutes because I'm late for work. And if I can't buy the cider because it's illegal, well then I'll have to have something else for breakfast, won't I?"
Woman behind me was crying with laughter and mortification on my behalf.
I passed the cider to Chelsea and suggsted gently that she would probably be able to put it back on my behalf and handed her some money. She didn't say A WORD.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Happy Birthday To Us

Yes indeed folks, it's a year today since we opened No.9. We can't believe how quickly it's flown by. Seriously, a WHOLE YEAR?!! Lots of customers came to help celebrate our first birthday, and us staff celebrated by drinking glasses of bucks fizz at 8.30am. Possibly not a great idea.

Being in charge of a coffee machine whilst under the influence= frothy milk all over the floor. Oh well.

So just a quick one today, as we are now off to celebrate properly and enjoy a proper weekend for a change-two whole days off! We haven't had a bank holiday off since we opened so we decided to spoil ourselves.

Fingers crossed for sunshine and blue skies.

Back with photos soon!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

How Big is Your Boot?

Because ours is quite big, as you can see!

I was just trying the boot out for size in case we got rained out of the tent. Fortunately we remained very dry and cosy.

We managed to escape to the New Forest for a few days a couple of weeks ago and had a lovely time wandering, reading, drinking endless cups of tea and chilling out. Bliss.

The ever increasing book which isn't pictures which I read and laughed hysterically at, is Dawn French's 'Dear Fatty'. If you are a fan you must read it, I insist!

The essential hat for covering bed hair on the way to the shower block in the morning....I think it is actually a mans hat, but it cost £2.45 and is very soft and comfy. I have an enormous head, which is why I ended up with a mans hat instead of the miniscule lady hats on offer!

The even more essential ENORMOUS bottle of gin, and much smaller bottle of tonic...Rob's canny camping tip is to take an ice box to Tesco (other supermarkets are available) and fill it with ice. Then bury all alcohol (pear cider is especially good for camping) into the ice. You then have a ready made ice bucket which keeps drinks cold all weekend and lots of ice to put in your gin.

I have just realised that I am 101 today! Or at least my blog is. Does that mean I get cake and candles?? No?

Well despite that, I have to say I am most chuffed to have managed to hang on in there and keep going. I realise 100 posts may seem a bit rubbish to some of you old timers, but to me, well...yay!

I thought you may like to see my lovely Grandads 90th birthday cake. He has an incredible vegetable patch, and always knows the varieties of things he groes (whereas some of us just chuck in whatever seeds we have to hand..) when I was little he grew tomatoes professionally and my brother and I used to make tomato boxes for him in the summer holidays. Whenever I smell tomato plants now I instantly think of him.
Lots of family and friends gathered to help celebrate his big birthday a couple of weekends ago and had a lovely time.

The weather was sunny and we sat in the garden catching up with people we don't see enough of.

Nothing much else to report, apart from the enormous pile of courgettes that we returned home from camping to. Since then we have made courgette and carrot soup, iced zuchinni tray bake, courgette and mint soup, baked courgette, roasted courgette, courgette and pasta, you name it.
Tomorrow I am hoping to attempt Zuchinni Chocolate Cake at work. Oh yes indeed. And that, my friends, will be a whole different story.

Monday, 6 July 2009

And The Comment of The Week Award.....

Goes to a lady in her late seventies, leaning towards me when I took her her coffee and saying in rather a loud voice
"Do you know, it's so bloody hot I didn't put any knickers on this morning".

There really is no polite response to that, is there?!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

We'll Eat Again....

Well had I realised that being 31 would lead to such slapdash-where blogs are related-behaviour then I wouldn't have accepted it quite so readily!! Sorry folks. But I have been busy and have a very good list of excuses lined up!

We have had masses and MASSES of strawberries at the allotment this year. I have made several strawberry pavlovas now, and Rob has made dozens of jars of jam. In fact, as I type, a pan of gooseberry and strawberry jam is bubbling away on the hob. It smells fantastic, really summery.

The Sweet Williams are also growing really well. They last for ages and smell beautiful. I have a vase of them on the bathroom windowsill that feel rather decadent when Iam wallowing in the tub.
Strawberry Streusal. There is definitely a strawberry theme to this post, is there not? I made this a couple of weeks ago after a customer brought me the recipe in one day. We sold it all in one day. It has crushed hazelnuts in the base, and then a crumbly hazelnut topping..yum..

Two weeks ago was the annual Street Fayre. This year is the first time I have been involved. There is a theme every year, and this year it was World War 2. Everyone gets really involved, there are stalls everywhere, loads of entertainment put on and a fabulous atmosphere. All of our customers had warned us of how busy it would be in advance, so we drafted in lots of people to help.

We weren't too sure on what to do regards dressing up, so eventually decided on having customised t-shirts designed. It just wouldn't have been safe or practical in our work environment to be wearing uniforms etc. So we went for Your Cafe Needs You on the front, with the trusty Kitchener logo, and had our names and ranks on the backs.

We had such a fun day. It was madly busy, there wasn't a spare seat to be had, and the atmosphere was amazing. Unfortunately I could only get photos of before-no during or after shots due to the madness! I was (handily) on drinks and cake duty that day, and it was constant. The rain held off, it was warm and sunny and we had heaps of support from our regulars, as well as seeing lots of new faces. We were all shattered that night, and some of our younger workers looked done in, but it was well worth doing. I am really looking forward to planning next years event properly, as we'll have an idea of what to expect rather than just go on hearsay.

Things have settled back to normal again now though. We have a couple of new girls who are working out well and we are just enjoying the summer.

Sewing wise I have a new quilt on the go. It must have been inspired by all of that Union Jack bunting, as I am going for a red white and blue theme this time. There are squares of stripes ginghams and spots on various surfaces around the house, and a couple of rows sewn together. The machine has had a few off days but I think it's sorted now. It only seems to like using 100% cotton, so that is what I'm sticking to from now on.

Thankyou for all of your Happy Birthday wishes cards and pressies, I am a very lucky girl indeed. (still calling myself a girl,ha!) I have only just realised that I am about to hit my 100th post as well! Madness. It seems a long time ago that I joined the blogging world, and despite the infrequent postings these days I do still enjoy reading everyone elses. Most evenings I spend half an hour checking out what everyone has been up to. A very enjoyable way to relax after a busy day.

I won't leave it so long next time, promise.


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Another year gone

Yes indeed folks, tomorrow is the big 31. I am not one of those people who like to moan about getting older. There is absolutely nothing that you can do about it but accept it. See you back here on the eve of my 40th though?! (you bring the tissues, I'll bring the waterproof mascara and wrinkle filler..)

Despite a weekend of working we did manage to spend some lovely sunshine filled hours in the garden.
I have never seen so many forget-me-knots in one place. I do love them though, and they do well at filling flower beds that are a tad unloved in places!

Subday morning. Toast on the terrace! Please ignore the white bread, pilfered leftovers from the cafe.

Remember the quilt I mentioned?

Well it's nearly finished. Just a few bits of tinkering around the corners and binding.

Not bad considering I started off with a pair of kitchen scissors and a bundle of fabric! Thankyou to Nancy and Tess for the inspiration!

I will show you a proper photo when it's finished. Meanwhile I have treated myself to a proper rotary cutter and am already collecting samples of fabric for the next one! It's really rather addictive, isn't it?!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

It's been a busy couple of weeks or so....

These pictures will all make sense when you reach the bottom..Blogger is still messing me about, but I shall sort it soon! In the meantime feel free to coo over the pretty pink cakes!

Today- Making pavlova for tomorrow when my folks come for dinner. Never fear, Ma, it will also be laden with cream and strawberries...

Last week- teaching myself at last (with the help of a ladybird book!) to crochet. It may have wobbly ends but there are no holes and I am quite impressed so far..will it be a rug? (for a very small person) or a cushion cover perhaps? Hmm. Don't cushion covers require sewing though? We'll chat more about that venture another time, perhaps.

Sliding around whilst exploring rock pools in St Ives. A lovely early birthday present, and one most thoroughly enjoyed by us both. But not my jeans, unfortunately. A diet of salad and fruit from here on in. After strawberry pavlova, obviously.

Mussels clinging onto the rocks- the photo doesn't do justice to the amazing sight of thousands of shades of blue.

It would be fair to say that it rained just a little. But who cares when sights like this greet you when you look out of your window?

The pirates were also in residence.
Wave watching from the balcony

A couple of weeks ago we held another birthday party at No.9. This time for 13 girls with a fondness for pink. It would be fair to say I was in my element! The cake pictures at the top of the page won't let me move them to the bottom of the page, for some reason.

Nancy, thankyou so much for the loan of the party book- none of it would have been possible otherwise. I promise to send it back soon, honest!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Happy Easter

This is what happens to cute easter chicks when they spend too much time sat at the cake counter....
And this is our new tablecloth fabric. Very summery and pretty, I thought.

It's been a big hit with the customers and has made the inside of the cafe feel all bright and cheery.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Yet More Cake!

At the risk of turning into a cake making bore, check out these bad boys! These have been created from my new purchase, Rachel Allens BAKE book. If you are a baking goddess then I insist you buy it now, as it is bloomin marvellous, yes it is!
So first up to tantalise you taste buds, we have the delectable Mocha Cake. Oh yes, she is smothered in espresso icing with a touch of chocolate for good measure, and sandwiched together with more of the same. Finished off with a sprinkling of shaved Green and Blacks dark chocolate this is one sophisticated loaf!!

Secondly, Blue Poppy Seed cake with vanilla icing. Not, I would imagine, everyones cup of tea, but it was certainly popular this afternoon. I have a poppy seed cake recipe from Cowboys and Custard that I much prefer, but you have to try these things, don't you? The icing is a touch sickly, so only a small slice is needed at a time.
It also goes particularly well with a lovely cuppa! (although truth be told what I could really do with right now is a LARGE glass of white wine...but tea will have to do, Saturday night is Alcohol night!)

I have finally decided to sign myself up for a sewing course. At last! I now have the sewing machine, the book for beginners, the pile of squares ready for my first ever patchwork quilt, and enthusiasm by the drawstring laundry bag load. But I don't -have-a-clue. Nope, not one. So the lovely Victoria (my new friend who I have plied with tea and soup this week!) and I are off back to college. Hurrah! I am most excited.

This is the sight that greeted us when we finally managed a trip to the allotment last week-a host of golden daffodils. Our plot stood out from far far away due to the abundance of bulbs that Dad put in. The Sweet Williams are coming, as are the irises. The kiwi is spreading across the shed and the rhubarb! Remember when I used to make jam and marmalade? Remember when I used to make things in my very own kitchen, in my own home?! Well I decided to go mad and make some Rhubarb Orange Lemon and Grapefruit Marmalade. It was a recipe I spotted in The Times, called Dalemain Marmalade, after a National Trust place, I believe, in the Lake District. They hold an annual jam and marmalade festival, and the one I made is one of the specialities. It is truly fabulous, and if anyone would like the recipe then do let me know!!
Staying on the subject of Domestic arts, I was given a marvelous present this week from a very special lady. We had a lovely lady called Mary who used to come into the cafe most days for her lunch and we always had a chat and a giggle. For an 80 year old she had a wicked sense of humour and always have me in stitches. I got to know her, and her fabulous sister Gracie really well over the past few months since we opened. Mary sadly died quite quickly a couple of weeks ago now, and Gracie travelled down from her home in Scotland to sort out the funeral and other bits and pieces. She popped in most days to see us and have a cuppa and some lunch. I heard lots of stories about her and Mary when they were younger, and it was lovely to spend time with her. Before she caught her train home Gracie came in to see me with something she thought I might like that belonged to Mary. A very old, very well used (and therefore all the better, in my view) copy of Good Housekeeping's Home Encyclopedia. What a wondeful present. I clutched it (and Gracie!) to my chest and shed a tear or two. It will be so well loved and cherished, and also used! I thought I would show you one of the pictures from it that made me smile..but then Blogger went stupid on me and wouldn't allow me to insert the pictures where I wanted to. Has anyone else had this problem with them? Usually I can move pictures around the page easily by clicking and dragging, but have really struggled with this post for days now. Any helpful suggestions would be gratefully received!
In the meantime, Mary, I miss you massively, but am sure that you are looking down on us from a very lovely place with a ciggie in one hand and a pint in the other. Here's to you, lovely lady, I am delighted to have known you X