Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cultural days out

The last two weeks we have had some interesting days out which involved death in one way or another (stop rolling your eyes those of you who think I'm obsessed).  The first of these was a visit to the Natural History Museum in Tring - this was built in the late 1800's to house the very eccentric collection of Walther Rothschild.  He collected specimens of animals from all around the world, both living and dead - he even had his own Zebra's that he used to have pull his carriage, the sort of thing which we would be horrified by today, but in the 1800's he was just a very quirky rich man.

It's a fascinating collection, especially the dogs, as you can see how much the breeds have changed over the last century due to people trying to breed them for certain characteristics.  There's a big Australian collection and he's even got Tasmanian Devils and Tasmanian Tiger specimens.  See a selection of photos from the museum:

The really sad thing at the museum is the signs that say the elephant and rhino tusks/horns are fake - the reason for the signs is that they have had people break in to steel the tusks in the past - some people are just too scummy.

While we were there we got to see the Wildlife Photographer of the year display - amazing photos and if you ever get the chance to see it make sure you do.

Tring is a lovely little village, with some great shops and of course we had to go into the charity shops as Ken does like a bargain (no comments about him being Scottish) and look what we found in one of them - a jacket that was a very long way from home.

We visited the church St Peter and St Paul of which parts date from the 1400's.  Whilst we were admiring the outside a local lady that was passing took us into the church and showed us a book inside that explains all the different parts of the church both inside and out - she was very sweet.  The church has some great gargoyles which Ken loves - see photos below.

Just keeping the death theme going - I do love a nice graveyard
Our next exciting day was a visit to the Wellcome collection in London - it is a museum near Euston station, and I wanted to visit to see an exhibition called Death a self portrait.

It's all about how death has been portrayed through the centuries in art and cultural artifacts - unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures in there otherwise I could have taken some great ones.  There is also a permanent display which again was collected by an eccentric man in the late 1800's which is about medicine through the ages - that was really interesting.  One of the things I did whilst we were there was to contribute a postcard to their picture wall - mines second from the left on the bottom row, it was good to sit and draw something about life and death.

After the museum we wandered down to the British Library - unfortunately it was about to shut but we did have a quick look inside, and enjoyed some of the sculptures outside.

The sculptures below are by Anthony Gormley

Great bench in the library
 So there you are - we're totally full of culturallness now (that's a new word I've just made up).

That's it for today - be good, stay safe, and keep smiling.

Pamela & Ken

Monday, February 04, 2013


Early in January it was my birthday - I was thoroughly spoiled by my beloved. He took me out for a meal at Loch Fyne which is a seafood restaurant, and my present was a cupcake making masterclass which I did last Tuesday.

The meal at Loch Fyne was incredible, the food is absolutely gorgeous.  There actually is a Loch Fyne in Scotland which the original restaurant is next to, it is only 38 miles from where Ken grew up, and all round the restaurant are pictures from Scotland, so Ken feels right at home.

My main was a seafood platter which was delicious but very messy - definitely not a first date meal.

My dessert, so decadent it was outrageous, was a chocolate fondant with salted caramel sauce, pistachio icecream, and clotted cream - I swear it was at least one thousand calories!!!

It was a lovely evening with my beloved and despite being another year older I felt very loved.

My Beloved
Now for the cupcake making masterclass - it was at Cinnamon Square, which is a cafe/bakery in Rickmansworth (about 10 min drive away from us) which we like to go to.  The class started at 5pm and ended about 8.45 - there were 8 participants, all women around my age or older, except for one teenage boy who is doing the Duke of Edinburgh award (I felt a little sorry for him amongst all of us).

The instructor Paul was great, even though he was teaching us about cupcakes he gave us lots of tips for other baking we may be doing.  We also got to make roses out of sugar paste, and learnt about decorating our creations.  We had to do everything by hand, so by the end of the night I had a very sore arm, as I usually use my hand held mixer to cream the butter and sugar - you'll be relieved to know that I haven't taken a photo of my very sore looking thumb on which I developed a huge blister and then rubbed the skin off whilst beating.

My first rose

The mixture in process

Pre oven

Post oven - pre decoration

The end result - Masterchef here I come!!
It was such a lovely present to be given and at least Ken got to eat the end result of his gift.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves baking and lives anywhere near a place that does these sort of classes - really interesting and rewarding.  Also good to do something totally different.

So that's it for now - sorry this has taken so long, the results of a very inconvenient chest infection that went on for far too long, but back on track now.

Be good, keep smiling, and eat a cupcake.

Pamela & Ken