Rainbow lollipop class

My sister and I recently went to a candy making class, something that we both have wanted to do. We arrived for the class and excitedly looked around the shop at the wonderful sweets as we waited for the candy to be heated to the correct temperature. Once this was done we made our way to the workshop with our instructor. It was only a small class with another woman, my sister and me and the instructor who was going to lead the class. Today we were making rainbow lollipops.

The mixture of glucose, water and sugar was really hot, and so it was only safe for the instructor to use. The instructor poured the mixture onto a specially made table that was heated to enable him to keep working with it. The flavour of the mixture was tutti frutti and it smelled great. Once the mixture was on the table our instructor started to add colour, made with natural flavourings and were vegan, vegetarian and halal which was great to know.

First the primary colours were made, and then our instructor used these to make the secondary colours. The white was stretched to add air which would then bring out the colour. All the colours were then laid out in rainbow order and wrapped around the white candy to create a long, colourful tube. We were now able to start making our rainbow lollipops.

Our instructor stretched the candy tube to make it thinner and then gave us a piece each to create our shapes. Working on heated tables and with gloves on we made a simple shape first, the swirl, and adding a wooden stick our lollipop was complete. We then made a few more shapes; starts, hearts, flowers and butterflies. I think my favourite was the duck which came out quite well. We had to work quickly with each piece of candy as it would become difficult to mold as it cooled, hardened and turned glass-like.

The class was about 1 hour long, but the time went quickly, as it always does when you’re having fun. Our instructor was friendly, and very knowledgeable, and the candy making process was almost scientific when it came to understanding the way the ingredients interacted with each other. And the best bit; we all got to take our tasty creations home with us, which was a lot more than I expected. I would definitely recommend doing a class like this, as it’s not every day that you get to have a hands on experience that involves such tasty treats.

Surprise Baby Shower

My younger sister recently had her second baby, a daughter, but before she did we threw my sister a surprise baby shower. There were lots of secret plans, conspiring and her poor husband getting in trouble for being difficult but the surprise baby shower went off perfectly and my sister had no idea what we had planned for her.

We decided on a rainbow pastel theme to make it gender neutral but to also make the room look colourful. On the day we asked my sister’s husband to delay my sister on her trip to our house so we could set up.

When my sister finally arrived and walked through the doors, we all shouted surpise giving her a huge shock!

We had a colourful sweet table with balloons, lots of treats and presents. My sister in law made some really cool bottle and baby grow shaped biscuits. I also thought the baby carriage favour boxes were a really cute.

We ordered a lovely two tiered button cake to fit in with the theme, and the icing inside was both pink and blue which I thought was a really creative.

As the weather was nice we decided to have everyone outside for games and socialising so we hung lots of colourful scarves and decorations to make it all look really pretty. One of the games we played was guessing the melted chcolate in the baby nappy (which looked a bit disgusting).

Everyone had a great time at the baby shower, and most importantly my sister did. She left with a hoard of presents, a big smile and hopefully lots of memories. I’m glad the baby shower went to plan and that we all gave the new addition to the family a great welcome.

Colourful Beach Huts

I went to Bournemouth over the summer for a few days, I have lots of photos to post (which I plan to do soon), but for now, here’s a photo of some colourful beach huts that I have wanted to take wanted photos of every time I went to the seaside. Colourful beach huts are quite iconic of British beaches and I love how they brighten up the landscape and look so neat and uniform. I was really pleased to have finally have spotted some.

Shrouds of the Somme

Shrouds of the Somme is an exhibition by Rob Heard at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and is a physical representation of every one of the 72,396 British Commonwealth servicemen killed at the Somme that have no known grave. I went along with my sister to have a look and to remember all those that have fallen in war.

Each fallen servicemen was represented as an individual, miniature figure wrapped in a shroud. The figures were laid out in neat rows, and were slightly different to one another. Looking at the shrouds, it was astonishing and incredibly powerful to see just how large a number 72,396 is, a number that is difficult to comprehend in your head.

To one side of the field, there were a smaller number figures. These had placards at the head of each figure with a number and a date. The dates ran from the battles before the Somme in 1914 and ran to battles until 1918. There were dates for every day in those years. The numbers below the dates showed how many servicemen have died on that day. The deadliest day was at the start of the Somme, July 1st with 19,240 that died.

The exhibition was a very powerful one, and quite an emotional one my sister and I found. It was difficult, poignant and important to see just how many had died for our freedom and way of life.

I was pleased to see that there were lots of school children on a day trip to the see the shrouds. We have to hope that exhibitions like these have an impact on future generations and that we look for peaceful solutions to conflicts instead of violent ones that destroy families and communities.

This quote by the artist Rob Heard in the booklet I bought has stayed with me since I read it and I’m sure will stay with me for along time yet
“As a nation, we marked the beginning of the centenary of the beginning of the war with ceramic poppies in the summer sunshine and will commemorate the end with 72,000 dead bodies laid out in the November rain”

Hello there

Some of you may have noticed that I disappeared for a while. I managed to annoyingly, break my laptop and have just had it fixed and returned. I’ve been up to lots of things these last couple of months, which I will post about soon, but for now, I’d like to say hello and share this photo of this beautiful purple rose, which is not only an unusual colour but smelled amazing.

Eid-ul-Adha 2018/1439

Eid Mubarak everyone. Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us).

Happy Eid to all to Muslims around the world who are celebrating Eid-al-Adha which coincides with the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and honours Abraham’s promise to God. In these blessed days may all pilgrims’ prayers and ours be accepted.

Sunflower and Lavender Fields

Yesterday I went to a sunflower field in Hertfordshire with my sister, my nieces and my brother in law who kindly drove us there. Last year I visited Mayfield lavender farm which was a lovely visit and I was keen to see other flower fields (I’d love to see tulips in Holland). Hitchin Lavender had a sunflower field and next to it a lavender field, which meant that we got to see both on this visit.

We started at the far end and walked up the rows, but more than the sunflowers and lavender, what really took my attention was an empty field with nothing but bales of hay scattered around. I’ve seen such bales on drives through the country on numerous occasions and always wanted to stop and take some photos. This one has a fence around it but part of it was broken so I took my chance and went through it to take some shots.

It was quite difficult to walk in this field as the corn stalk were short but quite sharp so I had to tread carefully or risk being poked in my ankles (which I did), but I worked my way across the field and to see the bales of hay that were spread out as well as get up close to a few.

After some time gazing across the field of the round bales I came back through to the main field which had the sunflowers. There were thousands of sunflowers but I think due to the very hot summer we’ve had and the heavy heads the sunflowers were quite droopy, which made it difficult to take photos. There were still some smaller ones though that looked fresh with all their petal intact which looked pretty.

After walking through the sunflowers we moved onto the lavender field which was right next to the sunflowers, but was much bigger.

The lavender smelled lovely and looked great, spread out ahead almost as far as the eye could see. We were given paper bags and scissors at the entrance and told we could take back any flowers we pleased, so we filled our bags with a few sunflowers and plenty of lavender.

Having wondered around for a couple of hours, taking photos, smelling the scent of the flowers and just taking in the pleasant, relaxing view on a sunny day we started heading back to the car and to get something to eat – it’s hard and hungry work walking through large fields but immensely rewarding, and I would definitely recommend a visit, especially as a small break from the city.

Elephant Parade London

There’s an Elephant’s Parade in London for a few weeks this Summer. The elephant’s in this case are not real elephants but statues that have been decorated and dotted around London for you to discover. Last weekend I took my sister and my niece along with me to find them.

The first few were close to the station as was a shop selling miniature versions of the elephants that you could take home.

After visiting the shop we looked for the others in the area. There were a number clustered in a park that were decorated in different colours and styles. I really liked the black elephant with colourful flowers, and thought some of the styles were quite innovative and interesting

After spending some time looking at the elephants, taking photos and admiring the paint work we looked for others that were located close by.

The last few that we found were also very pretty, I especially liked the blue and white patterned one and the metal one made of clock faces. The elephants were all located fairly close to each other so it didn’t take too long to find them, which was good as it was very hot (and in previous years looking for the statues has taken a lot longer as they are spread out so much more across London)

What I like about these sorts of events in London is that they’re free, everyone of all ages join in and the artwork is always really creative, colourful and fun. I also love how they make you go off the beaten track in London and discover some parts that you would never otherwise see, such as the last few located near a big screen showing tennis with deckchairs to relax in. These elephants will eventually be auctioned off with the money raised going to charity which I think is great.

Chelsea in Bloom 2018

The Chelsea Flower Show is a world famous event that happens each year in London. Lucky for me though an alternative event called Chelsea in Bloom that takes place at the same time. Chelsea in Bloom is a flower competition that boutiques, restaurants and other retailers take part in around Chelsea, each showing off their creative flair. This year my sister and I decided to scout out the displays. The theme this year was ‘Summer of Love’ inspired by the Royal Wedding and the 60’s/70’s cultural revolution. Some of the shop fronts had pretty arches over doorways, others had some truly creative and beautiful pieces.

One that I really liked was the arch of blue and purple flowers, because it was really neat, I love blues and purples and most importantly the flowers smelled amazing. I can’t say the other displays really smelled of much but this one had a very fragrant smell, one that I wish I could have bottled.

The other ones that really stood out for me were the giant colourful skeletons, The pretty swans and the huge floral engagement rings. My other favourite was the hotel front covered entirely in flowers, unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a good photo of that as there was a double decker bus parked right in front of it!

It was quite tiring walking around, especially as the map provided wasn’t very accurate, but we did manage to find most of the flower displays and it was great to see fresh flowers used to create some really interesting, fun and sometimes beautiful displays. I think it was a nice, free, event and one that I can imagine revisiting next year.

Eid-al-Fitr 2018/1439: Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to Muslims around the world celebrating Eid-al-Fitr after a month of fasting. I hope you all have a day full of happiness, love and blessings as well as lots of delicious food. Lets also be sure to remember all those who continue to suffer around the world, may they find peace and ease soon and may we all be grateful for everything we have.