Monday, 25 June 2012

London Love: Chin Chin Labs

49-50 Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF

Yes, so the weather is fickle, throwing all too brief sunny spells at us one moment and thunderstorms the next, but the lack of blazing sunshine doesn't mean that we shouldn't embrace summer. It's almost July for goodness' sake, and I think that means that the season's ice-cream count should at least be into double figures. Mine was falling far short of that so, in an attempt to remedy the situation, on Saturday afternoon we duly trotted along to Camden Lock to Chin Chin Labs

At Chin Chin, the ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, cooled into the smoothest, silkiest pot of frozen deliciousness you have ever tasted, in flavours Willy Wonka might dream up (watermelon sorbet with chocolate seeds! green grass!), then topped with one of a variety of fantastical toppings (sea salt caramel sauce! heather honeycomb! popping candy!). Apparently there's some science behind the mind blowing texture, and with physicist M and bio-chemist H as my companions I certainly had my bases covered on the scientific explanation front, but to be honest I was too busy spooning green grass ice cream with raspberry sauce into my mouth with wild abandon to listen properly*.

Rain or shine, I'm back there next weekend to add another ice-cream to my total.

* M, H, if you're reading and shaking your heads in an exasperated fashion at arts background Becky - only kidding, I totally know it's because the rapid cooling means the ice crystals don't have time to form. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Summer Solstice

Some of last year's garden roses, in celebration of the longest day of the year. I like it when I find beautiful things in my 'drafts' folder.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Tomato Triptych

Heirloom tomatoes, baby round courgettes and a bunch of basil were the basis of dinner last Wednesday, cooked until just softened and spooned over pasta. Despite the abundance of rain, it feels like summer.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Weekend Sunshine I

Look, I know that the grey skies and rain are back again, and that most of you probably spent a good part of the Bank Holiday weekend freezing your socks off under union jack umbrellas next to a murky river (I certainly did), but for a couple of weeks we had sunshine. Beautiful sunshine. So beautiful that the entire office seemed to depart en mass for the park each lunchtime, taking far longer away from our desks than was really decent, buying ice creams from the kiosk and making daisy chains which would later wither quickly next to mouse-mats and tape dispensers. 

The first of the sunny weekends M and I hopped on a train south to Richmond, avoiding the rugby, choosing  instead the buttercup strewn riverbank, Isabella Plantation and confident deer. In the evening we listened to the London Symphony Orchestra perform live in Trafalgar Square as the setting sun cast a golden glow over players and audience alike, then headed to the river for drinks on a boat. On the Sunday a friend and I walked through Soho without jackets, ate lunch at Princi, then saw the Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery with a friend, followed by our first Snogs of the season. 


Someone told me recently that bluebells are the hardest flower to photograph, that capturing their blue is tricky, elusive. I think they were right.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Gardening in the City

(In which the Shoreditch Sisters WI yarnbomb Diarmuid Gavin's Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, get involved with the Chelsea Fringe and meet some of London's urban gardeners)


This post was first published on the Shoreditch Sisters' blog but so proud of the Sisters' knitting efforts (of which I must confess I was not a part, I only helped stitch it together) and inspired by the possibilities of gardening in an urban environment, that I thought I would re-post here for you all to read.


Diarmiud Gavin came to talk to us about his plans for the Chelsea Flower Show back in December 2011 when the days were short and the trees were bare. It sounded fantastical, a towering garden, a pyramid of scaffolding dripping with greenery, inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. At the end of May we were rewarded with the vision made real, the Westland Magical Garden, a 24 metre high, 7 terraced garden, a showcase of how it might be possible to garden in small urban spaces by making use of the vertical. The Shoreditch Sisters and friends had been knitting in earnest for weeks in preparation for the yarnbombing of level 6 (at Diarmuid's request!), and over the course of the weekend before opening day stitched length after length of knitting together to encase the scaffolding and add a flash of colour to all the green (check out the video for some of this in action).

We also got involved with the Chelsea Fringe, a festival in its first year which aims to celebrate London gardens in all their forms, helping with the construction of the Oranges and Lemons Garden at St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch and hosting the start of our May meeting there in the beautiful evening sunshine. Back in Concrete, the second part of our May meeting continued with a book reading by the very lovely Helen Babbs from her book My Garden, The City and Me, even more wonderful when read aloud by her than it was when I read it myself for the first time, if that is possible. We finished with a talk from Richard Reynolds, of Guerilla Gardening fame, both amusing and fascinating in equal measure. I left with signed copies of both Helen and Richard's books, longing for a bit of outdoor space of my own, but determined to get involved with the London Guerilla Gardening scene in the absence of it.