Monthly Archives: April 2012

Juicy Gossip

It’s not everyday I get sent treats through the mail… but this is what happened last week when the mixology magicians at Juiceology sent me a 4 pack of their finest concoctions… and wowee were they good. 

Seeing as I don’t drink wine, (makes me feel funny. Not normal-wine-funny, but weird-want-to-die-funny) I don’t often get to feel sophisticated when it comes to my drinks choices, so I decided to take the whole tasting thing very seriously. I wished to find hints of things and overtones of things, nuances, flavours and fragrances of things… really feel like I was a proper grown up. So I put on Radio 4.

With The Archers blaring, (it’s gripping, isn’t it?) I sat in my kitchen with Sarah Jane and Luna, who, incidentally was dressed head to toe in an electric blue catsuit. (She is Eastern European and thought it fitting for this very serious occasion). 

I filled them in – “These drinks are made with nothing but natural stuff!” I trilled. “Fresh pureés, botanicals, juices, herbs, spices, spring water and are sweetened with fruit sugars. No nasties or nuffin!”

‘Ooooh’ said Sarah Jane, (who was eating a bowl of Ambrosia custard, naturally). Luna remained silent and raised one eyebrow. She’s very talented.

The four flavours we tasted were ‘Apple, Lime and Mint’, ‘Lychee, Berry and Basil’, ‘Coconut Water and White Guava’ and finally ‘Mandarin, Ginger and Cardamom’. I didn’t tell them what was in them, so they had to guess. Tee hee.

Luna spotted the basil immediately (I told you – talented) but missed the White Guava. She had a few attempts: “Mango!” No Luna. “Pineapple!” No Luna. “Passionfruit!” No Luna. “Damn” scowled Luna. She doesn’t like losing. 

Sarah Jane nailed the Apple, Lime and Mint calling it a ‘Virgin Mojito’ and went on to use clever phrases like “the basil offsets the sweet perfume of the lychee.” Impressive.

Their favourite was the Manderin flavour while mine was the Apple. That said, we were all in agreement they were all completely and utterly delicious and super duper Summertastic. We also agreed that someone should tell Amy that Carl is married. 

These very special tipples are scrumptious on their own and  perfect as sophisticado mixers. What’s more, all four blends include milk thistle, (I didn’t know either) which is famous for its liver healing and detoxing abilities.. so perfik for that grotty hangover feeling. 

It’s all a bit too good to be true.

Juiceology drinks are available to buy at Fortnum and Mason, Whole Foods, Harvey Nichols and online:

www.tastejuiceology.com

Win a Juiceology four pack in a stylish hessian bag!

It’s true! All you have to do to win is one of the following, (the more you do the more chances you have.) Please leave me a comment below for each step you complete:

1. Sign up to my mailing list (Completion of this step is compulsory to be entered – please look out for the confirmation email in your inbox, otherwise you won’t be registered!)
2. Leave me a comment below with your best juicy combo
4. Follow Juiceology on Twitter
5. LIKE my Facebook page

6. LIKE Juiceology’s Facebook page 
7. Become my friend on Google Friend Connect

This competition is open within the UK and ends Thursday 10th May – good luck!

Poppy’s important stuff:
T&C – Entrants not meeting the above requirements will be deemed invalid and therefore not included in the draw. Signing up to my mailing list is compulsory and all the other steps are optional and are additional chances to win, however they will be deemed invalid if the entrant has not completed the compulsory step of signing up to my mailing list. Entrants are to leave a separate comment below for each step they complete.The competition will run from 7am on Tuesday 1st May 2012, through to midnight Thursday 10th May 2102. I will contact the winner within a week of the competition ending. If the winner doesn’t respond or accept the prize within 2 weeks of notification I reserve the right to draw a new winner.

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Have your cake and eat it: Hummingbird

My oh my what a pretty cakey.

It’s from the delectable Hummingbird Bakery, which is dangerously close to my flat, (I can get there in 5 minutes if I run. This has been tested). 

I say dangerously, because if my will power was not what it is, (which is not that impressive really, if I’m honest) I would be Mahoosive Poppy with no jeans that fit me and no pennies in my bank.

My solution to the no pennies bit is to make them myself. My solution to not becoming Mahoosive Poppy is to give them all away.

*Pause*

I may need to rethink this.

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Hummingbird Bakery
133 Portobello Road
Notting Hill
London, W11 2DY

Poppy’s Hummingbird Bakery’s Amazers Vanilla Cupcakes

For the cakes (makes 12)

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
¼tsp vanilla extract
1 quantity vanilla frosting
hundreds and thousands or other edible sprinkles, to decorate
a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

For the vanilla frosting

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract

The method

 

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
  • Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  • Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
  • Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
  • A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the vanilla frosting on top and decorate with hundreds and thousands.

 

 

For the vanilla frosting:
    1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

 

  • Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
  • Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

 

 

This recipe is taken from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers
Published by Ryland Peters & Small
Text © Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers

 

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Book Club: ‘My Cousin Rachel’ Daphne du Maurier

I absolutely love a good book. I love the world I land in and disappear in. I love how time vanishes in a puff of smoke and missing my train stop. I love spotting someone reading the same book, catching their eye and sharing a secret.

So, I have decided to launch my very own book club. Ta da! I actually am part of a real life book club with real life lovely friends, (I do have friends, you see) but I thought it would be nice to open the virtual doors so you can all read along and join in the discussions at the end.

So, if you’d like to join the gang, (there’ll be badges and everything…maybe even a treehouse), go out and grab yourself a copy of Daphne du Maurier’s ‘My Cousin Rachel’ and join in the fun towards the end of May.

Join the Facebook event here to be part of the live discussion!

Happy reading ladybugs, I look forward to a natter.

Synopsis:

I threw the piece of paper on the fire. She saw it burn . . . Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and there he dies suddenly. In almost no time at all, the new widow – Philip’s cousin Rachel – turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to the flame. And yet . . . might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death?

 

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Poppy Loves Poppy!

Pic from www.waywarddaughter.com

Ding ding ding! I can’t wait wait wait for today is the day I get to collect and ride my new beautiful bicycle! *Twirl*

I love her for many reasons. 

Firstly, she is blue. Not just any blue, but that perfect happy blue that makes everyone smile.

Secondly, she is called Poppy. This could become confusing, but not too much if you can remember that I am me and not a bike. And she is a bike. And not me.

Thirdly, she comes from the lovely people at Pashley. Poppy, (my bike, not me) has been hand-made with love and care at Pashley Headquarters in Stratford-Upon-Avon and they are England’s longest everest established Bicycle makers, which makes me want to deck myself in Union Jacks and eat crumpets for tea.

www.pashley.co.uk

But fourthly, (and mostly) I love her because she is an early birthday present from M from The Other Side Of The World. Even though she only has 3 gears and she has a basket for my veggies and a pretty ding! bell and she can’t go up mountains.

I think it means he likes me.

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www.pashley.co.uk



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Make your own teabags! It’s true!

Make your own teabags? Yes yes yes! I found this clever little idea over on A Beautiful Mess and I thought I’d try my Poppy hand at it. BE impressed.

I love loose tea, so this was a perfect little craft project for me.. and I think they’d make pretty brilly gifts too.

This is what you need:

Loose tea, (1-2 teaspoon per bag, depending on how strong you like it)
Any spices you wish to mix in with your tea…ginger, cinnamon, chai etc..
Coffee filter paper
Ribbon
Pretty card for the tags
Stapler, scissors, sticky tape and needle and thread, (or a sewing machine if you have one)

Step 1: Cut your coffee filter paper into a long rectangle which you can fold in half – I used the folded edge of the coffee filter paper.

Step 2: Stitch around the edges, (check out my blanket stitch, Mrs Smith, Home Economics, 1990) fill with your loose tea and spices and then fold down the two corners as I have done. (Ooo this is like Blue Peter).

Step 3: Attach a short length of ribbon with a single staple, ensuring it’s tucked neatly underneath – looks more profesh I think ;-)

 

Step 4: Make yourself some dinky tags, (you can write on them too) and fasten them to the other end of the ribbon with glue or sticky tape.

That’s it! Look at my pretty teabags! It’s so easy peasy… and you can tell from my stitching that I’m a bit of a beginner, but I bet that if I gave a box of these pretties to an unsuspecting pal it would knock their shoes and socks off.

Whooosh, I’m exhausted. 

Time for a cuppa.

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Train reaction
(and win brekky for two)

Remember those little station cafés which were always clean and pretty and smelling of freshly baked cakes and gingerbread porridge and the people working there were bouncy and friendly and sunshiny smiley ALL THE TIME? No, me neither.

Continue Reading…

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A good egg

Today is fruit and veggie day for Poppy and I always get my bits and pieces from the market on Portobello Road. I skipped, (not really) down from my flat and headed straight for Cheryl, who aside from being a ray of sunshine no matter how grey the day, has a stall which is always bursting with tiptop fresh produce that’s always shiny, ripe and delicious.

In these tricky tight times where every penny counts, I was pleased as punch with my colourful bundle. I waddled (was heavy) off, laden with onions, lots of broccoli, avocados, some enormous tomatoes, lemons, a bunch of radishes, a mahoosive red pepper, bananas and a mango… all for £6.20. Ding!

Eggs were the last thing on my list, so I wandered into The Grocer on Elgin and wandered out with these – Blue, Brown and White Free Range Eggs from Fenton Farm.

Fenton Farm sparkles in deepest Somerset where Andrew Gabriel and his father John have been rearing turkeys and chickens in idyllic surroundings and superb conditions for over 55 years. Fenton Farm is a family run business and they are, and always have been, passionate about producing excellent eggs from happy chicks, who roam their land without coming into contact with any horrid pesticides. 

I love that their hard work and dedication mean that I get to gobble some of the best eggs Somerset has to offer on my toast. In my kitchen. In West London. 

I love mostly that I have the opportunity to support them from all the way over here in my little Poppy World.

Lucky me.

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www.fentonpoultry.co.uk

 

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So shoe me

There’s something about new shoes

I feel taller. More put together. I stand up straighter and feel it would be harder to knock me over. I love the feel, the pinch and the weight of them. The swagger, the smell and the strut of them.

Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” 

These were my first; Start-rite, circa 1980.

I rocked those shoes. 

But conquering the world? I’m still working on that…

 

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www.startriteshoes.com

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Nuts about Coco… (and win £100 voucher!)

Large Butterfly Garlands – £25

Never was there a more sparkly, twinkly delectable boutique haven of all things gorgeous, pretty and ooh la la.

Coco Ribbon’s stunning collections of gifts, fashion and accessories will leave you dribbling onto your computer and pining in your sleep. (I speak from experience). 

Their online world is filled with charming and exquisite treasures and trinkets, including butterfly garlands, scrumptious lotions and potions and scented candles – Their Coco Ribbon Candle is one of the most delicious I’ve ever sniffed. Smelled? Experienced. (Better word). Packed with the extraordinary scent of champagne, cranberries, mandarin, lily and Indonesian patchouli, it sends your senses into a stupor…and it’s also made of natural bees wax so no nashty chemicals. Goodie.

All That Glitters Jacket in Gold – £495

There’s sparkling jewellery from Kenneth Jay Lane and designer bohemian-luxe fashion, dazzling in colour, embellishment and sensational prints. Everything looks and feels very loved and special, as Coco Ribbon work around  the clock carefully cherry picking all their treasures from around the globe to ensure the maximum ahhhhhhh effect. And it works.

Bathe by Candlelight Box – £79

As if by some lucky miracle, the fabulous Coco Ribbon have given me (Poppy) £100 to give to you (that’s you) to spend on whatever you wish within their Only Coco range. Now don’t fall off your chair. (Or sofa, if you’re not at work on this Monday morning). (Or bed, if you’re really lazy. Or unwell with the flu – sorry).

All you have to do to win is one of the following, (the more you do the more chances you have.) Please leave me a comment below for each step you complete:

1. Sign up to my mailing list (Completion of this step is compulsory to be entered – please look out for the confirmation email in your inbox, otherwise you won’t be registered!)
2. Leave me a comment below
4. Follow Coco Ribbon on Twitter
5. LIKE my Facebook page

6. LIKE Coco Ribbon’s Facebook page 
7. Become my friend on Google Friend Connect

This competition is open internationally and ends Monday 30th April – good luck!

Poppy’s important stuff:
T&C – Entrants not meeting the above requirements will be deemed invalid and therefore not included in the draw. Signing up to my mailing list is compulsory and all the other steps are optional and are additional chances to win, however they will be deemed invalid if the entrant has not completed the compulsory step of signing up to my mailing list. Entrants are to leave a separate comment below for each step you complete.The competition will run from 7am on Monday 23rd April 2012, through to midnight Monday 30th April 2102. I will contact the winner within a week of the competition ending. If the winner doesn’t respond or accept the prize within 2 weeks of notification I reserve the right to draw a new winner.

 

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Be still my heart

Thuja – Bow ballerina pumps – £45

 

I just saw these Ted Baker ballerina pumps and have fallen instantly in love. Kaboom!

They come in this gorgeous deep pink, orange or black, all with a contrast colour bow and I’ll be skipping through the Summer with them on my tootsies if I manage to get my hands on a pair before they sell out…

Best bit? They’re watermelon scented. (True).

So there’ll be sweet smelling feet all round. 

Poppy well and truly loves.

*Sigh*

 

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www.tedbaker.com

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Face the music: Karamel Music

Tucked away down a weeny street, (so weeny Red and I couldn’t find it) lies one of London’s best kept musical secrets – The Karamel Music Club, a true magical gem nestled in the heart of the Chocolate Factory 2.

Every second Wednesday, the Karamel Klub hosts a glorious cosy and high class musical evening of songwriting, stellar musicianship and merriment, which is completely and utterly free. FREE. They’ve had some outstanding people play over this last year, including Rosi Golan, (rising star) Jacqui Dankworth (Jazz royalty) Chris Helme (Sea Horses) Chris Difford (Double Ivor Novello)… etc.. (Am I name dropping?) So we were excited.

Red and I stumbled into Karamel out of the rain after walking in the wrong direction for 20 mins, (I blame my iPhone. Red blames me) and were immediately welcomed by a gigantic grin, which belonged to one Mr Chris Sheehan – the host, energy and brains behind the event. He escorted us (through a throng of happy people chittering and chattering excitedly) to our table and we ordered our dins. Fish and chips pleasey. 

Within minutes our food had arrived and while we ate, Chris explained why this particular evening was a bit different from the norm.. he also kept pinching my chips. (No biggie – the portions were enormous.)

All the artists playing that night were all outstanding session musicians, so you won’t necessarily have heard of them, but you will probably have heard of many of the people they’ve played for – Tim Minchin, Jarvis Cocker, Elbow… there I go again. 

Their musicianship is second to none – they’ve all trained their socks off and are at the very top of their game…and they were all jolly nice people too. The Karamel Club gave them a platform to perform their pieces in their way, with all eyes on them. And it was very special indeed. 

Helen Whitaker

They all played some amazingly dramatic, colourful, exciting and diverse pieces, which I can’t possibly explain but you’re going to have to take my word for it. It was nothing like I nor Red, (she said so) had ever heard before. I know that’s what Simon Cowell says on Britain’s Got Talent, but this was different. This was Really Good.

They were received brilliantly. There were whoops! and woohoos! and clever whistles that I can’t do but wish I could.

Next Wednesday, 25th April, the Karamel Music Club is back to its old tricks and you’ll find Matt Woosey, Vive and Sophie Smiles performing for your pleasure. 

I suggest you get yourselves down there. And may I also recommend the fish and chips. (But eat fast – Chris has got eyes like an eagle…)

The Karamel Music Club
4 Coburg Road
Wood Green
London, N22

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Leap year

I woke up this morning to a beautiful sunshiny day, blue sky, the promise of proper coffee, (Poppy went shopping) and Wham! on the radio. Despite this near perfect awakening I had a funny feeling in my stomach. Not the kind of funny feeling you get when you’ve eaten a dodgy kebab, (obviously this has never happened to me, three times) but the kind of funny feeling you get when you’re not quite sure of your footing. A little bit unsettled. A little bit scary. A little bit exciting. 

The above picture is of me standing at the top of one of my greatest childhood fears; The Escalator. “Come on Poppy” mum would say. “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

I thought I would trip and fall, I thought it would gobble me up, I thought it would suck me underground in Marks and Spencer and I’d have to eat BLT sandwiches forever more. (No bad thing).

Pic from lifeinthemiddle

Everyone else was sailing up and down with enviable ease. Even BOYS. But that’s the thing… what’s scary for Poppy may not be scary for someone else. (Especially when it comes to Kite Surfing…. but that’s a whole other story.)

I conquered my escalator fear that day and I love that my dad caught it on camera. You can see me psyching myself up. Poppy Pep Talk. And Leap.

I’ve taken a few leaps recently and sometimes the Poppy Wobbles kick in. (That is not a medical term by the way, your GP won’t have heard of it.)  So I had a little Poppy Pep talk this morning –  a word in my ear, a pat on my back and a high five in the mirror. ‘You’re doing fine, Poppy’ said I.  And I am.

My fear of moving stairs, (fair enough when you put it like that) meant I had to stand still, while everyone else moved around me enjoying the ride. 

I knew I had to leap. Jump. Feel the fear and do it anyway. And that’s what I’m doing now.

Because even if it goes belly up, at least I had a go.


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How does your garden grow

Clever idea I spied in The Telegraph

In the name of my newly green fingers, thanks to my super seed providers and new found friends (read about them here) I have decided to invest in some pretty planters to brighten up my London balcony and kitchen to make my herbs look even more impressive. I mean beautiful.

These are all available in the UK and I can’t wait to get my mittens on them…

Vintage Rose Plant Pots by Graham and Green
Giant Cup and Saucer Planter from Amazon
Striped Petal Plant Pots from Orla Kiely
Wellies planter from Exclusively for You
Turqouise Planters from Mustard Monkey
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Ladies what lunch: The Oak

Being back home brings with it lots of forgotten familiarities…my dented tea caddie, (dropped on my foot) the smell of my sock draw, (it’s nice, honest), the neighbours making a racket at 7am on a Sunday morning (not so nice) and all the lovely cafés I’ve nestled myself in over the years, drinking tea, chatting with my pals and reading the papers from cover to cover. (When I say ‘papers’ I mean Grazia).   

One of my favourite haunts in the neighbourhood is The Oak – a restaurant which knocks up the best wood fired pizzas this side of Napoli and also offers an extensive and delicious seasonal menu. I went there with my mum yesterday for a snack, some chit, some chat and a Woo Hoo Poppy’s Home! celebration. 

We ordered two starters and shared. We do this a lot. It eliminates the inevitable food envy which comes with a menu as tempting as the one we were faced with. We chose ‘Deep fried squid with watercress and skordalia’ (I didn’t know either – it’s a thick Greek garlicky puree) and ‘Grilled goat’s cheese salad with mixed leaves and red and golden beetroot’. Uh huh. 

The food arrived more swiftly than a very swift thing and was fresh, aromatic, colourful and completely, ridiculously and utterly delicious. Goat’s cheese is a marvellous invention. (Well done goats.) We chitted and chatted and woohooed and had a very lovely time. We tried to guess everyone’s name in the restaurant too. I wonder what Frederica and Harry are up to today…

In addition to their top notch restaurant, they also have a bar called ‘Upstairs at the Oak’ which is, um, upstairs. It’s a lovely atmospheric lounge bar, (think battered leather sofas, twinkly candles and long plush curtains) and serves cocktails and tapas from 6pm. We didn’t go as a) mum had to wend her way home and b) I had to do my laundry. 

So if you’re stuck for somewhere to go to eat a cracking pizza, drink Margaritas or settle back for a spot of people watching, you know exactly where you can head.

The Oak
137 Westbourne Park Road
London W2 5QL

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No place like…

 

I’m home. After 6 magic months in NZ, (campervantastic) and a two week stint at my mum’s (fridgealwaysfullofediblethingswithinusedbydate = heaven), I am now back in my flat in West London.

These are the shelves in my kitchen and I love them. They were the first thing I built with my dad when I first moved in. (He banged nails and I made tea. Am excellent tea maker).  I adore their higgletypiggletyness.. and the stories behind each thing placed precariously upon them.

 

My French enamel coffee pot which I carried back on my bicycle (one handed) from a vintage market in the South of France. I fell off my bike (obviously – I can’t cycle one handed) and still have the scar. I tell my neighbour’s children it’s from wrestling with an alligator. They believe me.

My Jamie Oliver cook book with his killer recipe for Steak and Guinness Pie, which when you cook, people (Karen) think you are actually a world class chef, which also means their expectations rise and this can only lead to inevitable disappointment when you make scrambled eggs on toast next time they (Karen) come over for dins… 

And my Orla Kiely biscuit barrel, which I haggled for in John Lewis. I didn’t get anywhere, but I gave it my all. On my journey home my bus driver forgot which route he was on and somehow I ended up in Putney, but I’d already filled my barrel up with jaffacakes so I was happy gazing out the window and munching them (all) until he found his way back to Notting Hill. 

These are the small things that make home, home. Little things, big-swallow-you-up memories.

It’s good to be back.

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