Christmas Countdown | 19 | Gluten Free Afternoon Tea

Gluten free afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel, London
My Aunt, Mum and Sister enjoying afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel in London.

Earlier this month, I said I would report back on the gluten free afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel in London. My Mum, Sister and Aunt like to meet up in London now and then for a day out and a catch up.

I’ve never suggested afternoon tea before, although I’ve been with friends several times, as my Mum is gluten free and I’ve always assumed that it wouldn’t be worth it for her. After all, the main part of afternoon tea is sandwiches, cake and scones!

I was convinced to give it a go after chatting to the maître d’ at the English Tea Room and I’m so glad I did. The bread used for the gluten free tea was indistinguishable from the normal bread. I have no idea how that’s even possible!

The gluten free scones were excellent too. And as far as I could see, the only difference between the gluten free cakes and the normal cakes was the lack of choux, which is totally understandable.

On top of all of that, you get charming service and a live pianist. We’ll definitely be back.

This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒


“Fashion on the Ration”

“A decline in clothing standards may be accompanied by a decline in self respect and a consequent slackness of the mind.”

– Memo from the Women’s Group on Public Welfare regarding the Make [Do] and Mend campaign, as displayed at the Imperial War Museum London ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibition, which is on till the end of the month. I visited earlier this week with my Mum – a rare chance to get away.

An ambitious project and a leap of faith

Helen Pack GDS 2015 landscapeWhat do my little sister, a Shakespeare/zombie mash-up and the Edinburgh Fringe 2015 have in common?

Answer: Thread Theatre Company!

My sister Helen (that’s her in the boater) is making a brave move into freelance theatre production. She’s been working in amateur theatre for years, producing multiple shows annually, making money for the company and gaining loads of experience at the sharp end of theatre. I’ve been to several plays she’s been involved in and the production values are very high. I know she can make a success of this career, if she can get a foot in the door.

This summer she has a big opportunity to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and work on two plays with Thread Theatre Company. This is huge because it means a professional credit on her CV – as with many professions, theatre production has the chicken and egg situation that you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job!

Thread sounds like a fantastic outfit.

It was set up by a self-starting, feisty gang of women who are taking big risks to help themselves carve out careers in professional theatre. An “emerging company producing new writing and innovative takes on classic plays”, Thread made their Edinburgh debut last year with “Much ado about Zombies” – a death-defying take on the Shakespeare love story.

“With such an intriguing name, the cynical part of me was almost prepared to be let down. How could this show possibly live up to its title? Happily, Thread Theatre Company has done an admirable job of delivering on their premise…there are many laughs to be had”

Participating in the Fringe is great experience and exposure for young and talented theatre groups. But here’s the rub – it costs a bomb and groups are much more likely to lose money than to break even on ticket sales. To make sure the show goes on, Thread have launched a fundraising campaign on indiegogo.

*** As I write, they are just £610 away from their fundraising target***

I think it’s testament to my sister’s skills of persuasion and ability to leverage contacts that she not only got me to donate to the fundraiser, but to help publicise it all over social media!

If anyone reading this would like to learn more about Thread and the productions they are taking to Edinburgh or would like to donate a few pounds to help them get there, then please click through to indiegogo below:

Not only would you be helping Helen and Thread Theatre (a female-led company who are “particularly passionate about new writing which gives women a voice both on and off stage”), but you would also be helping to support anti-human trafficking charity “Stop the Traffic”  for which the company will be fundraising whilst in Edinburgh. One of their plays is a new piece of writing dealing with the issue of sex trafficking in Europe.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they have a really successful season!

Update (29.07.15): Thread Theatre beat their fundraising target by some way and are off to Edinburgh! Hooray!

I wonder if I can get a cheap flight…? 

Fireworks fun

Fireworks in a box It was Tom’s Dad’s birthday last weekend and we went down to Portsmouth to join the party! He didn’t want any gifts that were things to keep, since they are planning on downsizing. After a bit of thought, we came up with the idea of taking along fireworks to put on a display at the party.

Did you know there are three shops in Bristol where you can buy fireworks all year round but that only one of them is open without an appointment on a Saturday morning? Handy to know. It’s a wacky shop selling lots of ‘party’ supplies!

Setting up the fireworks and planning the display is a great way to entertain the overgrown boys of the family during the long pre-party hours!

Fireworks silhouette

Pro tip: don’t try and take photos on your phone whilst wearing gloves AND holding a glass – you won’t get many shots before it’s all over!Fireworks starburst Fireworks in the dark jennybegoode.wordpress.comI defy anyone, of any age, not to enjoy themselves with a sparkler in their hand!

Sparklers fun

Christmas Project Life pages

Project Life app layouts 2014Yesterday I completed all my Christmas pages in one afternoon using the Project Life app on my iPhone. It really is so easy. I love the instant gratification of seeing a page finished in minutes.

Generally I cover a week in one or two pages, but for Christmas I went with the flow and made as many pages as necessary to cover all my favourite photos. I ended up with nine, including a full page 12×12 photo of New Year’s Eve.

[This is going to be a photo heavy post, so please click through if you’re interested.]

Continue reading

December Twentieth – antipasti platter

Antipasti platterWe made this antipasti platter for our first Christmas celebration today with one side of T’s family. We used a dish that T inherited from his Granny. It used to live on her wall and I wonder if it had ever been used for food before.

I love making platters instead of formal starters. This one had some mixed antipasti from the supermarket (rolled for texture), pate, mixed olives, mozzarella pearls, cherry vine tomatoes, stuffed peppers, gherkins and rocket.

We’re going to do a fish version for our second Christmas celebration next week (we have four in total).

This month (December 2014), I’m attempting to turn my blog into an advent calendar by posting every day in the run up to Christmas! Posts are tagged ChristmasCountdown2014 or look at the calendar in the sidebar –>

A week in Oman

Oman hot springsWe’re just back from a week in Oman, where we were visiting T’s sister.

As usual, we packed our holiday to the max. A few highlights included: trips to forts, wadis and beaches; paddling in hot springs (above) and sailing in a dinghy; afternoon tea in a grand hotel and a visit to the Grand Mosque.  Wahiba Sands dunesProbably my favourite part was the night we spent in the Desert Nights Camp at Wahiba Sands. We went ‘dune bashing’ (driving forwards, sideways and backwards over the dunes in a souped-up 4×4), watched the sunset from the top of a sand dune and rode camels!

Here’s a bonus picture of Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque.

Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque

I might write a bit more about some of the things to do in Oman, if there’s interest?