Showing posts from 2011

Cupcakes galore!

Today seems to be cupcakes galore as I found two people who chose to bake these little beauties. These bakers are local to Southsea too, so I thought I'll share with you what I found..

"Hannah Banana Bakery specialises in creating delicious cakes and sweet treats for Vegans and Gluten Free people" - now, I know this would be the answer to some of my friends prayer. How often do you have to abstain only because the beautiful thing make you sick? With Hannah's cakes, there should be no more worries. Hannah has just started her business this year. Check out her website and you will fall in love with her cakes.

Wedding cupcake by Hannah

The other talented baker I'd like to mention is Denise Allen who is a Twitter friend of mine. Her motto is "Delicious Cakes made with Love" which says it all. She started this as a hobby and look at where she is now! The nicest people I know, she a…

Beautiful Boscastle in Cornwall

I spent a couple of days in Cornwall recently and took these photos of the village of Boscastle, which was devastated by a flood in 2004.
What I cannot get over is the beauty of the place. I hope I can visit this place again some day.

Blooming marvelous!

My garden is blooming and I love it!

This white sweetpea I call 'heritage sweetpea' because it came with the house. It gave me such a beautiful surprise the first year I moved into this house to find it blooming in the garden, resplendent in its whiteness.

Each year thereon it has given me such joy that I look forward to see it blooming.

Light the barbie!

On Friday we kicked off the weekend with drinks at the Florence Arms and listening to Fox Elipses in the background (or the other bar). But apparently his songs were depressing, so just as well that I could only hear bits.

This was followed by a barbecue on Saturday. It's lovely to share a meal with friends. This time we got the timing right too, so that the food came in stages and the conversation flowing between sips of wine.

Dreaming of clouds

Look at these lovely photos of clouds from local photographer Hannah Treagus!

You can find more of her photos here

Pea and sweetcorn patties

On Saturday I invited some friends over for a barbecue and I made these little pea and sweetcorn patties which are perfect for nibbling while waiting for the charcoal to burn.

Take 100 grams each of frozen peas and sweetcorn and give it a wash to soften them. Then put half in a blender with 1 garlic clove, 1 red chilli cut up, the juice of 1 lime and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Blitz until they are mushy, but retain some bits. Pour out into a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of plain flour, half a teaspoon of salt and 6 rounds of pepper from the grinder.

If you like coriander, tear up a handful of leaves into the mixture at this point and mix well. Don't use the stringy stalks.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a shallow frying pan, once it's nice and hot, drop a tablespoonful of the mixture on to the hot oil. Fry on one side for 5 minutes, until it's nice and brown before flipping the patties to the other side and cooking another 5 minutes until nicely brown. Watch …

On a summer afternoon

Nothing is lovelier than sitting on my garden chair, flipping through magazines, with a glass of wine nearby and the garden freshly trimmed. This summer afternoon, the sky was clear and blue, the sun was shining boldly and there were gentle winds rustling the heads of the newly blooming sweetpeas. Don't you just love Sunday afternoons in the summer?

On the menu tonight are some seabreams. They looked fresh and glistening on the shop counter yesterday. Not the fishmonger, as magazines like to tell you, but good honest middle of the road grocer. The magazines also said that seabream is a good alternative to seabass. There are articles after articles on eating fish sustainably. These seabreams of mine are destined to go under the grill and I have in mind a brush of garlic and chilli in olive oil for the skin and some juicy lime to soothe the singed skin afterwards and perk up my tastebuds!

So an easy, lazy summer dish. Ten minutes under the grill, eaten with some tossed spinach and pep…

Carpe diem!

First thing this morning, I heard of the death of a great aunt. I didn't know she had cancer and last night she collapsed, went into a coma and died.

Only yesterday I was pondering about death and how unexpected it can be. That singer Amber died while at the operating table, so unexpected to get a complication on a routine knee surgery. And the woman in Tenerife who was decapitated on entering a supermarket. Such a random chance.

I used to get depressed thinking about death and how I would go etc. Strange, I know, but at some point we all must have thought about it. I was only little and so my expectation of death was more scary. I think it was the fact that I might go somewhere strange without anyone I know.

Somehow now the thought that I won't be conscious of anything when I'm dead is rather comforting. Nothing to worry about.

What these deaths remindes me of is that we must take each day as it comes and cram it full of what you want to do. You don't know when the end is…

Negative self-talk

I've always wanted to do lots of things, but negative self-talk always talks me out of things! So today I declare war on negative self-talk. Given the chance, I know I'm charming and friendly and good at what I do. There; I feel better already!
Moving along the positivity vibe...I'm really enjoying this new doors to social media period I am having. I was preparing for my work 'performance development review'. There is a new form to fill and it has helped me looked back into the past twelve months and review what I have done.
I've done lots!
But the one thing I haven't done was to identify a social media training course! A quick work on-line to find those courses I've been dreaming of, I've now booked myself into a couple of amazing workshops to which I'm very much looking forward.
Give yourself a positive self-talk and see for yourself what joy it brings!

Fly to the land of writing

It's Friday and it has been an inspirational day for me. My team at work was discussing social media in the morning and their enthusiasm seemed like an encouragement that I'm not alone in this and should really embrace social media. This seems a very positive way forward.

I've always been wondering about my writing. Although I've always loved writing and wanting to write, it's always been in the more personal forms of letters and keeping a diary. Looks like I can't keep it that way for too long.

First of all, Andy Stanford-Clark, who came to give a talk at the Cafe Scientifique session I organised last month has now asked me twice whether I blog. I evaded the question once, but I think that's not the right attitude! So I've promised him I'll write.

Annabel Souter is another person I've met on Twitter who a few months ago, or maybe even a year ago, requested some writing from me which I managed to avoid. On reading her blog about her own writing I f…

Bring on the sun!

I'm buoyed by all the good weather so far and everything I do seems to be influenced by it. Like the starting of cooking of all sorts with salad and Spanish flavours this weekend.

According to my search, this sauce is either called 'samfaina' or 'sanfaina' - whichever way is the same, although there seems to be various versions of this vegetable sauce.

The one I made fits one of the descriptions I found and it says that people think of this dish as the ratatouille of Catalan. I have altered the recipe to suit ingredients that I have at home. Enjoy!

Chicken in Sanfaina Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
120g bacon pieces
1 tinned chopped tomatoes
100ml red wine
100ml water (or stock if you have)
1 medium bay leaf
1 tbsp chopped thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a casserole dish, brown the chicken and then remove. Add the onion and garlic into the dish and fry for 1 minute. Th…

A morning of inspiration

A morning walk is a lovely thing to do while gathering ideas and thoughts, whether it be what to cook for dinner, what to wear to the wedding later on this summer or what shall I do with the rest my life.

There is no place like Southsea for such a morning walk. The air is relaxed and there are lots to see. I took a different path to walk this morning and went into some of the smaller side streets around Palmerston Road. I saw new style of houses and also new ideas of who my neighbours might be. A peek into their gardens also gives me inspiration on what to plant in mine.

The greengrocer on Marmion Road is quite small, but it gives you that home country feeling and the plants this morning just gave me the inspiration I need for the garden. If you see nothing there, walk into the Laura Ashley shop and browse their home products. They give you such a desire to plump up your lounge cushions and dust the curtains.

So by the time I got home for lunch, I was full of ideas.

Next time you are feel…

Golden Roasted Vegetables

If you don't know what to cook and you want something delicious for supper, try this recipe for two.

Arrange the following on a roasting tin...

1 onion, cut into wedges
1 large potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 large red pepper, cut into large chunks

And mix well with the following...

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp oregano/thyme/rosemary
salt & pepper

Roast in the oven at 200 degrees Celcius for 40 minutes. Tossing the vegetables once while cooking.

I wanted some meat tonight so I threw in some chopped up bacon, which went nicely crisp in the oven. You can add/substitute parsnips, red onions or courgettes to the dish, if you like.

Science Busking!

Science Busking last week was good fun. Some scientists took to the street to demonstrate simple fun science.

On Wednesday some of the scientists at the University of Portsmouth were in Commercial Road wearing all purple and giving out purple balloons to entice people to the stand.

They were showing a variety of experiments, such as how to skewer a balloon with a sharp kebab stick. And then explaining why the balloon didn't burst!

Then on Saturday, members of the British Science Association Hampshire & Isle of Wight Branch were seen in Guildhall Square wow-ing passers by with more science magic.

One of the best demonstration was making a funnel disappear in a pot of oil. It was something to do with the speed of light travelling through objects such as water, air, oil and glass.

Many children loved the straw oboe as it involved making a lot of noise!

Southsea Seafront in Grey and Yellow

Kat showed me her flicker photos and I thought it would be lovely to share it with you here!
By Kat Neighbour -
I love Southsea seafront and on Twitter I was sharing a few of my fave photos of Southsea with @Southseascene so she asked me to do a little guest blog post. It's just a few lovely Southsea photos I have taken and love sharing. Enjoy!

More photos can be found at

It's another cooking Sunday

Well, I am myself again! And I have had another cooking Sunday. I made pizza today with a slightly different toppings. So bacon, dear readers, go very very well on pizza. It was yummyness all around.

I've caught up with the washing as well, just need to do some last minute folding before going to bed.

How delightful to now be ready for the new week and all its challenges. My husband's show will open on Wednesday at the New Theatre Royal.

I hope you are coming to see it, if you are in town.

Time to regroup

Sometimes life has a way of catching up with you and you need to catch up with life. Today I woke up with a sniffle and the kitchen was a riot! No other way but to spend this beautiful Sunday on housework.

Don't resent housework. Take your time to chill. I use it also to re-group with myself. It gives me time to think and get back to my own routine of things. Also, the body gets some physical exercise it needs!

So a good Sunday to you and I'll blog again later today about how the day turns out.


Tweet-up and new friends

Well, Southsea had its tweet-up last night and this time over 15 people come along. So that was a major success.and the other one was that we all managed to get to know each other and draw inspiration from each other.

Mary, who is a poet and is writing a novel, was encouraging Emma, who runs Eden Florist in Old Portsmouth, to write about what she's passionate about. Emma was trying to find out what blogging is all about. So I had a nice chat with her too about her shop, her children and why the things she said would be the things I want to read in her blog. From this conversation I too learnt about what might be good to blog about.

As I chatted to various people I was trying to find something interesting to talk about. I can be quite shy, but since this tweet-up happened because Abby and I talked it up on Twitter, we had to do our part in making sure everyone was comfortable.

Someone passed around a list of who were there and no doubt a Facebook page or something similar will materia…

We are planning a tweet-up!

Just a quick note to say that the Southsea Tweet-up this Wednesday 23 February is gaining momentum. This is encouraging since my first tweet-up was made up of myself and Haley Storey who runs AboutMyArea website. Then I had 4, then another 4 last month, so will be pleased if more Southsea tweeples turn up for this one.

Southsea Tweet-up
Wed 23 Feb, 7pm onwards
At No 69 Palmerston Road
Southsea, of course!

See you there!

Top 5 things to see and do in Portsmouth

I've submitted my roundup of things to see and do in Portsmouth for @GotSaga with some beautiful pictures from Elizabeth Allen. I hope you will take a look at let me know on the comments box below what you think.

Top 5 best things to do and see in Portsmouth, England

1 - Historic Dockyard
2 - Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays
3 - Old Portsmouth
4 - Millenium Walk
5 - D-Day Museum and Southsea Castle

Hope you agree! I would welcome your recommendations of things to do and see so I can write more.

What a week!

What a week in Southsea and I can tell you a few things I've been to this week to show you just how busy this place can be.

On Tuesday afternoon the St James' Hospital in Locksway Road officially opened The Limes, a facility to care and treat elderly dementia patients. It's a beautiful building and surrounding which clearly had been designed carefully with the patients welfare in mind. The staff were gentle and caring. In fact, everyone I met made me feel that the patients could not ask for a better care. Thumbs up for Portsmouth!

On Wednesday the University of Portsmouth officially opened the new Dental Academy in partnership with King's College London. Again, a beautifully designed building. Earl Howe officiated and the event was attended by the great and the goods in the city. A really good celebration and good news for dental health in Portsmouth.

Thursday night saw a glittering evening at the Spinnaker Tower to launch "Portsmouth in Poetry", a collection of…

Sunday cooking - meatballs!

Sunday is always a good day for cooking. When the chores are done, there is always a lull in the afternoon to plan and plot.

This evening I started with 700 grams of minced beef and the aim was to create different dishes to freeze so I can eat them during the week when life's a bit too busy to cook.

First beefball recipe:
Mix together
100 grams bacon, chopped
350 grams minced beef
1/2 onion chopped
1 tsbp plain flour

Form into balls and fry in a pan with heated 1 tsbp olive oil, until all browned. Add 100 ml of red wine and let is bubble for 2 minutes.
Add 200 grams chopped tomatoes (which is about half a tin)
Add salt & pepper to taste
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Then toss together with pasta.

Second beefball recipe:
Mix together
200 grams minced beef
Salt & pepper
1 tsp thyme, chopped

Clean 6 medium mushroom caps, remove stalks. Pick up a small ball and squeezed into each cap. Line the caps in a roasting pan. Dot each cap with soy sauce and some vegetable oil. Roast at 180 degrees Celcius for …

Make you own Gyoza

I love gyoza or Japanese dumplings. Since I found this recipe many years ago when I was a student in Cincinnati, Ohio, you can call these little darlings potstickers like the Americans do. So called because they stick to the bottom of the pot - you will find out why when you read the cooking instruction.


2 cups plain flour, will need more to make it more solid, plus extra for rolling
2/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cold water
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Combine all and knead until smooth. Divide into 30 balls and roll each into a thin 2-inch circle.


500g pork
1 1/2 tsbp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsbp sherry
Dash of pepper
1 egg
1 1/2 tsbp cornstarch
1/2 inch finger of ginger, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients together. Put a small dollop into each 2-inch dough circle, fold into half and pinch the semi-circular edges - I'll have to make a video of how I do this!

Now, put a small amount of oil in a flat bottomed pan, with lid. Arrange the potstickers at the bottom of t…

Music taught me a lot

I have loved music from a very young age. My papa used to play various cassettes when he was at home. He is a good singer too and I know his many songs such as Sinatra's 'My Way' and the one we call 'And I love you so'

I just checked that there are videos of Dan Mclean singing this on YouTube. And I know the first stanza by heart!

My father is also a brilliant musician. He has taught himself the guitar and
piano, and years later I found out that he can also play the saxophone. Better than me! Not that I was very good, but as a teenager I play the tenor saxophone almost every day.

One day I came home with my saxophone and he played it. He showed me all the vibrato and jazz techniques. I think I stared at him and wondered is this the father I knew! Shouldn't take anyone for granted; even your nearest and dearest.

I've always wanted to play a musical instrument, but they were too expensive for my parents to afford. So when at the secondary school welcome assembl…

Finding things out

It's good to have curiosity and the thirst to learn. That's how one finds out about things. It's quite important to instill in children not just facts, but also the desire to learn. When you keep learning, you keep your mind active.

I'm just saying that as now I have to find things out about Indonesian curry. There are many curry houses in Southsea, but mostly from the Indian subcontinent. Well, and the one Thai restaurant called Bangkok. Delicious food, by the way, if you are ever this way.

So I should look into Malaysian, Indonesian and other South East Asian curries.

Google it, Wiki it, read a book in the library or ask your auntie. Whatever the method, don't forget that there is a quest to collect family recipes and you can add yours at

Get searching and tell me about your regional dishes!

Happy New Year!

Well, a happy new year to you and I hope you and yours have had a very good festive season. I won't bother with resolutions this year, but I do have a few things I'm looking forward to.

For Christmas I was given a year long subscription to delicious. magazine and also Nigella's new book - Kitchen. So I shall be making some things from the pages of these. Already I have my eye on Nigella's teriyaki chicken recipe and some cauliflower curry from the pages of delicious. I'm not sure how much use I will have of the 1001 cocktails, but those half drunk bottles that have been lingering in the drinks cabinet may get to be used too.

Also a stay with my friend Jan has always inspired me to cook because she's so amazing in the kitchen. While we sleepily watched television, she cut apples and made crumbles. Wow! I should take inspiration from her industry and try to make pies like her.

I will write more about living and working in Southsea, one of the most vibrant neighbourh…