Monday, 25 August 2014

the one when we went to Seven Stories

Seven Stories is located in a converted Victorian warehouse in the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle Upon Tyne and is the National Centre for Children's Books.  Last week we spent an enjoyable few hours looking around each of the seven floors that make up Seven Stories.
As we get older we find that our first port of call is usually the cafe - and when we visited, which was quite early on in the day, it was almost empty.  Although the cafe menu is fairly limited the prices are pretty reasonable and we settled on bacon butties, which were yummy, and cups of tea and juice.  Our cafe visit was made all the more enjoyable when we looked through the window and spotted Little Red Riding Hood who was trying the find her way into the building.  

We then went up to the Artist's Attic for a very enjoyable Mixed Up Fairy Tale.  Little Red Riding Hood and The White Rabbit (from Alice in Wonderland) gave a performance of 'The Best Story Ever Told' using children's suggestions for characters and plot and we enjoyed seeing 'Robin Hood' and 'Tim the Wolf' meeting up with various fairy tale characters on their adventure to a very big volcano .  Children and adults alike loved the entertainment.  

Three of the floors are filled with exhibitions and displays of original notes, artwork and movie memorabilia from well known children's stories: The Gruffalo, Mr Stink, Angelina Ballerina, The Borrowers, Fantastic Mr Fox and Alice in Wonderland to name but a few.  

Each of the areas has costumes for the children to put on and activities to do.

We then had fun being artistic in the Creation Station where tables are set out with tons of paper, pencils and glue and made collages, masks and models before we finally visited the independent bookshop - a change from the normal gift shop you usually find at attractions!

As we still had a bit of time left we visited The Biscuit Factory nearby in Stoddart Street, which contrary to the name is not actually a biscuit factory but the UK's largest art, craft and design gallery.

 A word of warning: beware of visiting if accompanied by small children as the ceramic displays are within easy reach of small hands.  We managed to get out without any breakages!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

today I'm enjoying...

The weather may be wet but that's a good reason to stay indoors and enjoy a lovely mug of tea some freshly made ginger snaps and the September issue of 'the simple things'.  Is it really almost September now?

It was supposed to be my laundry day today  - I've given that idea up
...instead I'm enjoying reading about retro kitchens...
squirrels, petanque, making a fishing rod...
and a fabulous Dutch holiday cabin.

Which magazine do you enjoy reading?

Saturday, 16 August 2014

the one when we went to Beamish

Beamish the Living Museum of the North

Yesterday we visited Beamish and had a fabulous day looking around the museum, we were doubly lucky with the weather as we only had the occasional light shower.

There are many attractions at the museum and we started with a tram ride to travel to the 1900's town and  visited to the dentist's house, where we were informed that most of the equipment and tools today remain pretty much unchanged.

Then we visited the Piano Teacher's and Solicitor's houses followed by a quick look at the Sun Inn, Jubilee Confectioner's and the printer's/stationer's before a cup of tea in the Tea Room.

Once we'd had our refreshments we looked in the Garage where there were several cars and tons of tools and engines...

and the Co-Op Store's three departments: Hardware, Drapery and Grocery...

where there are so many products that are no longer in use but still within living memory that they bring to mind memories of the olden days...Virol anyone?

A quick stop at Herron's Bakery to see bread being made, the smell of fresh bread drawing in hoards of visitors. 

We then hopped on a tram to visit the 1900's Pit Village as grandson desperately wanted to visit the school.  The classrooms are set up to allow everyone to have a go at writing on a slate and to try pen and ink using old fashioned ink wells.
Outside of the school the playground was filled with children and adults trying to master a 'Booler' (a metal hoop and stick).  Grandson got the hang of it but I didn't manage to master it!

The promise of fish and chips nearby from Davy's Fried Fish Shop was enough to drag us away from school.  
Fish and chips cooked the old fashioned way on a coal fired range using beef dripping, yummy.  
You could have fish and chips or chips - no kebab, pizza, sausage, patty or burgers here...

Not quite served up in newspapers (apparently modern inks are the problem) but served in paper with no sign of polystyrene.
We then visited some of the miners' homes in Francis Street and had a good chat with one of the 'residents' who told us that up to 13 people would have lived in the house - how would we handle that nowadays with no mod cons or opportunity for privacy?

Before leaving we visited the fun fair to have a ride on the Merry-Go-Round and a go on the Coconut Shy...we didn't win a coconut but the horses more than made up for it.

A wonderful day out with lots more to see and do than we managed to fit in.  

We ran out of time to go down the mine or visit the 1940's farm, 1820's Pockerley Old Hall or manage a ride on a steam train at Rowley Station.  It's just as well our tickets allow us unlimited access for the next 12 months...we'll be going back soon I'm sure!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

the one when I made tabbouleh

We were invited to a birthday/retirement BBQ and asked to make a couscous salad...but I was out of couscous.

As an alternative I made tabbouleh following the recipe in Ghillie Basan's recently published 'Flavours of the Middle East'.

The recipe (below) is simple but delicious.  

However, I almost made a huge mistake in using Concentrated Balsamic Glaze instead of Pomegranate Molasses... my OH pointed out to me I noticed just before adding the dressing to the mix of bulgur, lemon juice parsley, chives, mint and pomegranate seeds.

The salad bar before everyone dived in!

And there was enough tabbouleh left over today to have with some steak and roast new potatoes, mmmm!

Thank you to Chris and Sarah for a lovely afternoon yesterday - weren't you lucky with the weather.

Parsley Salad with Bulgur and Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 4-6

  • 60g / 1/2 cup fine bulgur
  • juice from 2 unwaxed lemons
  • large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • bunch of fresh mint leaves 
  • 4 spring onions/scallions trimmed and finely sliced (I used chives)
  • seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup/molasses
  • salt & pepper
Rinse the bulgur and drain well then place in a bowl with the lemon juice and a little warm water to cover the bulgur.  Leave it soften for 10 minutes.
Finely slice the parsley & mint (leaves & stalk tops of both).  Add to the bulgur.
Add the spring onions/scallions and most of the pomegranate seeds then mix.
Gently add the oil and syrup/molasses.
Season to taste and sprinkle with the reserved pomegranate seeds.
Serve immediately before the herbs have a chance to soften.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

the one where we went to Paris

Just back from a fabulous holiday in Paris where I enjoyed the scenery, culture, food and drink with a great group of friends.

The weather could not have been better to enhance our break and we enjoyed:
  • a boat ride on the Seine
  • Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacre Couer
  • the 'Amelie' cafe - Les Deux Moulins
  • La Musee D'Orsay
  • Versailles
  • Musee Rodin
  • the Tour de France
  • travelling on the Paris Metro and the buses
We didn't manage a trip up the Eiffel Tower - we're saving that for next time!