Wednesday, 23 November 2011

More on the cake

I have had interest in my cake from Bolton to Sydney, so thought I'd better embark on Episode Two.

Did the mixing tonight - not an easy task and it all curdled horribly at the first egg (and there were three more to go!) - I'm not patient enough for the beating stage.  But I did make an exception to my usual race through cake making by sifting the flour, as I thought this might help the curdled eggs . . .

And it did, as you can see below and the whisky soaked fruits smelt soooo divine after that 24 hour soak - even though it's definitely not my tipple!!

Look at the Bells' sheen on those currants
All my own work

Almost oven bound

and WOW - now is that perfection or perfection?
Final job was to pour more whisky down skewered holes - the kitchen now smells like an illicit speakeasy.

Need to source some suitably tacky Chrissy decorations for the top now in time for the marzipanning and icing.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Growing up

Suddenly awoke to the fact that it was time to do grown up things - so I went out and bought these ingredients 

to make - yes, you've guessed it, my VERY FIRST Chritmas cake.

Am I the only person at this ripe old age never to have attempted anything Christmas?  No mince pies, not even a Christmas pud has crossed my culinary path . . . . TIL NOW.

So I am going to make The Perfect Christmas Cake.

Today I have soaked all the fruit in whisky.

Tomorrow the world.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Misty moorlands

Weird weather all round this November

Flowers still blooming

 mist still looming

Nevertheless off we went yesterday to Longshaw to meet up with friends who I promised I would include in this blog! (Hi you lot!!!)

and would you believe it, the mist lifted, the sun came out, the sky turned blue and a perfect day was had by all, including a tasty lunch at the cafe - sitting outside, feeling warm, at almost the end of November!

The trees were amazing - some still autumnal and some bare and twisted.  Here's our hike in pics . . .

Longshaw House where they filmed the Virgin and the Gypsy in 1970

Deep in conversation

The girls

and the boys

yes, more trees

we love to go a wanderin'

Amazing colours in the bracken

Surprise arachnid

the majestic hill forts


so thank you one and all for a lovely day!

Friday, 18 November 2011

'ark 'ark

'The Big Set', Oughtibridge 1906, picture from the Goddard family

. . . and 'what news' indeed - the best time of the year here in North Sheffield.   First Thursday after Rememberance Sunday last night, heralding the first sing at the Black Bull.

I can't even begin to do justice to this amazing experience - you just have to be there at one of the sessions.

Eric did his solos with that amazing mellow voice which somehow fills the space - the lovely, gentle Yorkshire anthem, Swaledale and the dark Mistletoe Bough.  Jeremy led us in the Holly and the Ivy.  Des was there calling the carols, ending in Ecclesfield's unique 'Ritual' - the joyful combination of Bread of Heaven, Old Father Chrismas and Six Jolly Miners.

We sang my favourite 'My God the Spring' as well as the two that so evoke the majesty of our seven hills in Sheffield - 'Hail Smiling Morn' (that tips the hills with gold) and 'How beautiful Upon the Mountains'.

Only time for two versions of While Shepherds this week - Pentonville and Hail Chime On.

This first session started quietly but as old stalwarts wandered in we swelled to about 40.  And then the deep harmonies kicked in more strongly and the singing was sweet and powerful.  By 'Hark Hark for latecomers' we were back on form and Diadem was a cracker or 'grand old lad', as Ike would call out from the 'corner' when the rendition was particularly rousing.
'In an innocent way we'll be happy today'  -  goes one of the wonderful verses of 'Merry Christmas' and indeed, me and my friends are happy, uplifted and relaxed every Thursday night in the Black Bull from now til Christmas, and every December Friday in the Top Red and for the odd session on Sunday lunchtime at the fabled Royal Hotel in Dungworth.

I'll leave you with some newspaper articles and video clips and maybe you'll get a flavour of this experience that has played such an important part in my winters here in Sheffield, and which heralds the start of Christmas so joyously.

Must begin with this 2010 press article from the Sheffield Star about the Black Bull in Ecclesfield and our carols.

Lovely Yorkshire Post article about the singing tradition in Dungworth in 2006 here.

We even have a Wikipedia quote at the bottom of the 'Christmas Carol' entry: "The mass singing in some of the pubs in North Sheffield and North Derbyshire, which takes place in the second half of November and all December, and which is often referred to as 'The Sheffield Carols', has been described as one of the most remarkable instances of popular traditional singing in the British Isles."

Now then - if you look closely and carefully, you'll spot us sitting singing in the Black Bull in 2009 when Mike Harding recorded his Christmas in Yorkshire for the BBC - watch here (at about 0.33).

So let's hope we'll forever be able to . . .
"Sound upon the wintry night
Melodies of Christmas time".
Happy days . . .

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Paternoster fun

Our office has relocated to the Arts Tower a couple of weeks ago and it's been wonderfully refurbished - light and bright and still got it's historic paternoster.

Found these brill snippets from Youtube of fun on the wonderful paternoster and arty shots of Sheffield's own skyscraper.

Love this speeded up arty take:

Love the cloud changes - but don't have fast speed on my computer sadly - you might have - this should be played at 720p for best effect:

and yet more paternoster fun:

and finally this for the architectural theory:

 that's all for now folks . . .

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Presentations and Painters - Birkenhead

Proud to go to Mum's presentation for her braille Adult Learner's Award at Ashville Lodge yesterday:

such an achievement at any age, let alone 90!

Work by some of the other students

and after the tea and biscuits and chat, we visited the Williamson Art Gallery in search of some information on John MacSymon - local artist who painted the laburnum in Birkenhead Park way back in 1913 for an Exhbition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool

and what do you know, he lived in Ashville House

and finally at 4 Arno Road

but then the real star of the day was still . . .

on ice cream and Parkgate

There is nowhere more lovely than Parkgate when the sun is low in the sky, glinting on the marsh and ice cream shop is still open!!

Once the most important port in the area - far bigger than Liverpool - Parkgate is now stranded behind the marshes, overlooking Wales across the Dee Estuary.

This particular November Sunday, by the time we emerged from a tasty roast at the Ship . . .

the sun was setting (and you can just make out the twinkling lights of Wales ) . . .

but, undeterred, we still managed our amazing Nicholl's ices - yes, on a November evening - outside!!

and had it still been light, this is what the wonderful Nicholls looks like:

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Off the Shelf 2011

Off the Shelf, one of the hightlights of Sheffield's cultural year has just come to an end.  Probably one of the best and most varied literature festivals going, but not enough limelight or national coverage.  We have supported this since it's infancy 20 years ago and it just goes from strength to strength

Programme Cover copyright of 2011 Off the Shelf

This year has been 3 weeks of a brilliant range of events of which we limited ourselves to the selection below - mostly choosing things we didn't know much about.

First there was a very interesting talk with music about Bob Marley's Wailers and their early days in Trenchtown.  Great to be in the Hubs too, good venue in one of the upstairs hubs with bar and stage:

and then a fastinating performance of LIszt's live and loves, as it was the bicentennial of his birth just 4 days prior to this event!  Martin Jarvis has a hypnotic voice and the recital was brilliant in the very lovely Upper Chapel, which was packed to capacity for this event:

followed by an interesting academic analysis of the letters of Thomas and Larkin and a lively debate afterwards:

and, on a balmy Saturday evening, we followed Geoff Nicholson on a circular walk from the Showroom, rediscoving the joy of city walking and observing Sheffield's own Kid Acne graffiti along the way:

then in a new (to us) and exciting venue, this amazing premiere in English. This performance was outstanding and mesmerising and quite unique - a highlight of the festival for us:

then over a lunchtime at work:

and in the Cathedral by night, covering Andrew Motion's recent war poems and some moving poems to his new partner.  He said that during his laureateship he had hardly been able to write a single poem:

and to finish off, submerging at the Showroom with young author Joe Dunthorne, who was only 22 when he wrote Submarine, which has become such a hit as a book and a film and soundtrack (Alex Turner), made by Warp films of Sheffield:

So all in all, a brilliant and varied festival and can't wait for next year's Off the Shelf . . .