Ely Cathedral

In my last blog post, I went off on a tangent about religion, and how much I don’t need it in my life, in fact what I need are people to just care about each other. Not difficult.

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That said, I do love me some historical buildings – even if they happen to be religious.

This is Ely Cathedral, in Cambridgeshire. Ely was an important Christian centre from as early as the 7th century, and was founded by St Etheldreda, the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon King. Basically, its an old religious area.

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The cathedral itself was built from 1083–1375, is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles. I remember going to visit quite often as a kid, and being a little girl in such a huge building was a memorable experience – although, even now, I can’t quite grasp how big it is. I can never seem to get any context when I’m inside, it just seems to go on and on.

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Last time I was in Ely, I decided to pop into the cathedral to take some photos. Like I said, I’m not religious, but I can appreciate incredible, historic buildings. The ceiling of the nave is an impressive feat of ceiling design.

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In fact, all of the ceilings are painted incredibly, and preserved so well.

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A lot of the cathedral is gated off, and members and paying visitors can explore more. The free bits are pretty good though, lets be fair.

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In one of the little side chapels, there are piles of hand-stitched cushions, featuring names and dates of various saints. Again, I appreciate the craftsmanship and the effort that went into every detailed design.

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As a child, I could never decide if stained glass windows appealed to me or freaked me out. I’m pretty sure I like them now, though I should admit the designs occasionally leave me feeling a bit disturbed.

If you’re in the area, Ely Cathedral is worth visiting – its rich, varied history, with Saxons, Danish invasions and even Jurassic finds in the area (an almost complete specimen of a Pliosaur was found nearby!), it’s a sweet little place.

The Earth laughs in flowers

Thats one of my favourite quotes, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a 19th century American essayist. A philosopher, he championed ideas such as individuality and freedom, and “the ability for humankind to realise almost anything”.

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He rejected the notion of God as a separate entity, instead believing in the moral worth of the individual. Given the current atrocities happening in Gaza, and all the wars as a result of religion, I kinda like the idea of rejecting God.

Anyway! I digress! This blog post was basically just to show off some photos of nature – beautiful flowers in bloom. Beauty like this is natural, no religion needed.

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Just some colour to counteract the grey days.

Ally Pally boating adventure

At the end of the my last blog post, my parents and I were full of food from my birthday picnic. We decided some adventuring was in order, and made our way up to Alexandra Palace for a walk and a jaunt on the boating lake.

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Actually, first we found the bar in Ally Pally and had a few drinks admiring the view!

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“Stand closer together.. no, not that close, you can’t see the view.. no not that far apart either..” – family photos are the best. We took heaps more with us and the view, but the breeze turned my hair into a beehive, so I won’t be sharing them.

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Best parents.

My mama had been suffering from some knee problems (she explained to me what it is, but in Polish, and for the life of me I dunno what it is in English) so when we decided to go boating (pedalo-ing?), my dad and I said we’d pedal and mama would sit in the back and admire the view.

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We hopped into our car-shaped boat, and started pedalling with great gusto… aaaand about 10 seconds later realised how much bloody effort it was.

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The boating lake is small but cute, with an island in the middle for the ducks. When I was a kid, I loved water (I still do!) and ducks – and with my little toddler Geordie accent, would shout at the site of a duck – “dooook!”. Geordie babies, what a hoot.

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The island in the middle is home to all of the ducks, and they’ve made some cracking nests along the side – there are cliffs and floating nests, like a little hippy ducky commune.

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Beautiful afternoon, thank you parents!

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Birthday girl

It was my birthday last month, and I was fortunate to be able to take some time off work for it.

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My brilliant parents decided to come down to London for a couple of days to see me, the weather was perfect, so I decided to have a brunch picnic in the garden.

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I bought a ton of nibbly snacky things, but also decided to make some food. Two of my favourites – sweet potato and sausage hash, and homemade sausage rolls.

A quick rundown of the hash:

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Whack some sweet potato, sliced onion and rosemary into the oven

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Until it looks like this! (Roasted sweet potato has gotta be one of the most delicious things on earth)

In the mean time, prep some tomatoes (I went for little plum tomatoes) and garlic

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And fry some sausage meat – this stuff looks so gross at first. You can buy big tubes of sausage meat (less faff) or buy actual sausages and squeeze the sausage meat out (I did this for the sausage rolls… it was icky, lets just leave it at that).

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When it starts to look like mince, its good to go. The sausage meat adds a wonderful flavour, and the texture is sticky and smooth, rather than more obvious like mince would be.

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Pop everything into your baking tray, and back into the oven until its all golden. I also chose to crack a few eggs into it, and bake them. Job done.

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Pretty simple, bar some prep time!

I also made sausage rolls – like I said, this was the less glamorous bake – squeezing raw sausage meat out of the casing isn’t as phallic as you’d think. It’s just gross. But! Good sausages, plus some more rosemary, garlic, and some dried herbs, made for delicious sausage rolls. Homemade is always better.

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We ate at the end of the garden in the shade, with hummus, pitta bread, a bottle of fizz, and a huuuge jug of smoothie that I’d made. Perfect.

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My sweet, lovely parents were in fine form

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We sat and ate and chatted for the best part of the afternoon, before moving onto Eton Mess. Luxury Eton Mess, if you will, made with meringues from the Meringue Girls.

The Meringue Girls are a brilliant pair of ladies who’ve created some seriously delicious treats – regular size, and mini size, in some fantastic flavour combos. I first discovered them when I bought their recipe book on a whim, and their love of colour and their outstanding creativity won me over.

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I got a jar of minis with strawberry, raspberry and coconut, and then a box of the regular size

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Gin & tonic, hazelnut, dark chocolate, passionfruit, and pistachio.

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Everything got thrown into the Eton Mess, which didn’t photograph well, but in our defence we’d had a few drinks at this point, and it tasted delicious, which is what matters.

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Happy birthday me! :)

Exploring Bordeaux

Last month, Patrick and I flew off to Bordeaux for a week – a weekend exploring the city, and 5 days in a chateau for the wedding of some friends of ours.

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Usually when we go anywhere, we look for gay bars (for him), and cocktail bars (for me), but this time there was a whole other treat instore – the Bordeaux Wine Festival.

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Stretching 2km along the river, this outdoor festival is a new one to me – you pay 20euro for your own wine glass (in a cute little lanyard-pouch combo, that you hang around your neck) and booklet of coupons and info, and then you make your way down the river, stopping at 13 different tasting stations, each one from a different vineyard in the area.

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The afternoon was a hazy but enjoyable one, with Patrick showing off with his fluent French, my schoolgirl French slowly improving, and maaany different wines drunk. We had our favourites, but I’ll be damned if I can remember now.

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We also explored the city over the course of weekend (navigating like locals by the end of it – admittedly its a small city…).

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La Grosse Cloche (15th century), the second remaining gate of the Medieval walls.

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I loved the French buildings – generally, old French architecture always woos me.

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We made a little friend – this sweetie was so happy, wriggling on a doormat. Simple pleasures.

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A walk through the park near our hotel and near our new-favourite restaurant revealed this pretty statue – a memorial to the children of Gironde who died during the Franco-Prussian war, 1870-1871

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French posters and a shop sign – beautiful Rob Ryan style lettering.

And of course, at the end of the wine festival, we went foraging for food and… more wine.

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All in all, an awesome weekend, before we headed off to the chateau to relax!

Hackney Wicked

Today saw the final day of Hackney Wicked, a weekend art festival championing local artists, with open studios, exhibitions, performances and more.

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I grabbed Patrick, and we headed over to east London to take a look!

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Of course, we made a (few) customary detour(s) for lunch and drinks first, and I warned Patrick he’d be my glamorous assistant for the day (basically he’d be holding my bottle of cider as I took photos).

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First stop was Hackney Hardware, which had been transformed into a popup bar – we got there just as they were opening, but 2 glasses of wine for a fiver was not to be sniffed at.

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We took a stroll through Victoria Park – seriously beautiful, not that busy, with dedicated bike lanes, lakes, and acres of space.

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When we got to Hackney Wick, the whole area had a cool buzz (coincidentally we saw a lot of people dressed up for Back To The Future at Secret Cinema… The men in braces and indenti-kit women started to blur a bit…)

We got stuck in exploring the studios.

I didn’t get a card for this artist (Patrick got the last one!) but her work was made by photocopying hair she collected, and then screenprinting it.

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This exhibition was interesting, but I didn’t get a chance to speak to the artist or find out the back story.

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The next studio we visited looks how I imagine my own place would look – eclectic, art supplies littering surfaces, sewing, knitting and crochet work all over, and a general outpouring of ideas.

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Of course, being a fan of multiple projects, I’m not sure I’d have finished work.

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I loved the next series of photos – 2 women displaying their typographic letterpressed cards. Simple but so beautiful.

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We explored other parts of Wicked, including:

a human beatboxer (he was so flippin’ good!)

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street artists, painting the side of The Lord Napier building

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some awesome skateboarders – one little kid in particular was so good!

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And of course, no jaunt with a camera would be complete without some graffiti and street photography.

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Lovely day, happy Kat.

North London lunch (with a special date)

Recently I decided to start exploring my neighbourhood a bit more – namely, Wood Green/Palmers Green/Tottenham/Walthamstow. North London at its finest.

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Last weekend I spent a lovely afternoon roaming the Turkish shops on Harringay Green Lanes (up near the North Circular) and today I did a little bit of wandering, and a little bit of lunching (pro tip: the Turkish and Greek supermarkets are brilliant – just under half a kilo of hummus for 99p, or a full kilo for £1.99, and a packet of pita bread for 39p – no need to go to evil Tesco!)

The Turkish and Greek shops and restaurants of Green Lanes are legendary – in fact, Green Lanes as an entity is pretty famous. Stretching 7.5 miles or so, with many of the side streets being one-way only, it’s an easy place to lose half a day to, exploring and eating your way along.

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For lunch I went to Fatisa. Named after the town of Fatsa in Northern Turkey, this Italian-Mediterranean restaurant is a sweet little local spot. Less than 10 minutes walking from Wood Green tube, the restaurant has expanded a lot in the past few years and has a new 2nd floor, an extended terrace, and a lovely little garden, where locals hang out.

I started with a summer special – the goats cheese, roasted pepper and aubergine bruschetta.

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This was the stuff of dreams, it really was. Rich, creamy goats cheese fresh from the grill, soft roasted peppers, and delicious smoky aubergine.

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Total gem of a starter, so simple too.

I wasn’t planning on getting a main meal, but the lovely waiter recommended the homemade burgers, so I gave them a whirl. The fries and bun were okay, but really this was all about the burger itself.

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Of course, I couldn’t get a nice photo of it – but it was so good – juicy, full of flavour, and not fatty or padded out with bread! I let most of the fries and bun, and instead tucked into the fresh, light side salad, with a really good dressing (the simple ones are always the best).

Together with a few drinks, my meal came to less than £20, so thumbs up from me!

But possibly the best part of it? This little pup who decided to hang out with me.

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I heard the dog described as both a he and a she, and the dog was called a “naughty dog!”…as it slept soundly. Also, apparently the dog “belongs to everyone”, so I’ve not acquired a timeshare dog.

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Those puppy dog eyes!

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Afterwards, I went for a little walk through Woodside Park, and headed home before the rain tried to catch me.

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If you’re ever in Wood Green or Alexandra Palace and fancied a lovely lunch, check out Fatisa – summer al fresco lunches are the best!