28 November, 2011

A bunch of flowers

Look at this lovely bunch of flowers! Aren't I a lucky girl?

Yes, I feel so lucky to have been taught how to make my own flowers, that no one need buy me any more, ever again!

I was taught how to make roses and carnations as part of another sugar craft course I did at Tamworth College. Although fiddly, the carnations were a lovely flower to make. I love how delicate they look against the more robust rose.

It's actually a cake...

...a bouquet cake to be more precise!

I ended up giving my Mum the flowers on top of her own birthday cake one year. She still has them stashed in a shoe box somewhere, and ever the embarrassing parent she'll get them out to show her visitors:

"Look at what my daughter made" 


27 November, 2011


No, I'm afraid this isn't a David Bowie based post. I figured I'd just rip off his song title to illustrate the ch-ch-ch-changes (sorry) I've made to my new bike.

The beautiful original cream tyres on my Gazelle were, well, past it. Cracked, dusty and tired there was no way I was going to risk going on an adventure without immediately replacing them. After all, I didn't want to be riding a death trap.

I wanted to replace the old tyres but if possible keep the cream colour as they look lovely against the dark green frame. With the Gazelle being my first vintage bicycle I had no idea where to start looking for replacement tyres, as Tamworth isn't the sort of town to cater for the more traditional bike.

As a regular reader of Lovely Bicycle!, cream tyres feature a lot on Velouria's blog, and Schwalbe Delta Cruisers seem to be the tyre of choice. A quick search on the web confirmed that I could get them in the UK at a reasonable price, so what was I waiting for?

Mucky pup...

Ahem. The cream tyres may be a problem to keep clean - maybe I should've opted for black after all?

Chillin' at the castle

See! You can't even see the dirt from far away!

I made the decision to take the front rack off the bike, which to me, did nothing for the overall look of the Gazelle. Without it, it feels less cluttered and the bike is 100 times more gorgeous, not that it wasn't before mind you! The rear rack is more than enough for me and what I carry, although I may have to get some funky bungee straps to aid with my more bulky cargo.

When I bought the bike the dynamo light was totally knackered so it had to go. I'd like to replace it when I have the time but I need to do a bit of research to see if I can use the original light with a new dynamo set and how best to fit it to the bike.


So, those are the little changes that have been made to my bike so far and I'm quite pleased! What do you think?

Oh, go on then. Here's some David Bowie.

23 November, 2011


The other day I stopped off at the supermarket on my way home from work, locked up the Gazelle and popped in to grab a few bits. Back outside, as I attached the pannier to my bike I noticed a group of young girls on their bmx bikes watching me getting myself ready to head home - feel free to use the picture below as a visual aid. Honestly... this was them.

Yeah, but no, but... what you lookin' at?

Intimidating? Uhh, yes!

As I cycled away I overheard one of the girls comment, "Why would you wanna ride that?"

Forgive me if I'm being stupid, but wtf? Why would I want to ride a bicycle? The girl on a bike really did ask that question. God, I need to get out of this town.

Okay, okay, I'll cut her some slack. The more I thought about this comment from Sharron* she can't have actually meant what I thought she meant, can she? I mean, its fairly obvious why someone would ride a bike. It keeps you fit and healthy and above anything else it's great fun! OH! Sharron must have meant the style of bicycle i.e. upright, traditional and darn beautiful.

It is a fact that 50% of bicycles in Tamworth are of the mountain variety, and the other 50% are bmx bikes. So to 'fit in' in this town should I have opted for a bike that I already own or a bike that I can do sweet jumps on? Well neither, thankyouverymuch.

I'll happily stick to my fabulous new bicycle and hope that I can inspire other ladies in this town to follow suit and see that traditional is not something to be scoffed at.

(*Name has been changed to protect identity)

20 November, 2011

Gazelle Implala

Oh my goodness, it's been an age sice I last posted. The nights are drawing in and winter is definitely on it's way. But...


I'd like to introduce you to my new bicycle! She's a 1975 Gazelle Impala, a bicycle make that I'd only really heard of through Lovely Bicycle! Isn't she a beauty?

As you might know, I'd been dreaming of getting a traditional bicycle for such long time and had been saving hard all summer but with one thing and another I never actually got round to buying one. Looking for cheap books on ebay I found myself once again dreaming about bicycles and typed 'vintage bicycles' into the search bar. There were loads! After an age of searching and a failed bid on a vintage Raleigh I found the bike that would be mine. With my heart racing through the bids I was soon the proud owner of a vintage Gazelle, and at a bargain price to boot! 

Since getting her I had to replace her original cream tyres with some new Schwalbe Delta Cruisers, which I hope will last for years to come, only because I'm a very lazy bike owner. 

I never imagined that I'd find a bicycle on ebay after I had my heart set on a new Pashley, but I would definitely recommend it for those of you that are on a budget. There are some real gems out there, but be prepared to search hard for the right bike for you. I think myself lucky in finding a beautiful bike in such great nick.

So, would you consider buying a vintage bicycle on the internet over a brand new one?

If so, happy bidding and good luck!

19 June, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

The rain has eased off and the sun is shining, for now, but it's just a matter of time before there's another downpour. I was hoping to get stuff done on my day off today; our garden currently looks like a jungle - I fear Ray Mears'* survival skillz would be put to the test; the lawn is desperate for a cut but I don't want to die, so mowing it whilst it's wet is out of the question. Maybe I'm being a big ol' blouse, but I didn't even go for my bike ride. I actually put it down to the puncture my poor bike got the other day. Yes, another puntcure! That's two in the space of 5 weeks - is this normal? Maybe cycling through the glass-bottle graveyard that is my route to work isn't such a great idea. My bike is a bit under the weather, so he's tucked up in the garage until he's feeling a bit more sprightly.

Instead, I've enjoyed my afternoon watching 'A View to a Kill', supping a big mug of homemade masala chai - Yum!

There's nothing like a bit of Roger Moore, who incidently is the best Bond, to lift your spirits on a rainy, miserable day off. Yes, I know, everyone prefers Sean Connery - not this gal. I'm also partial to a bit of Timothy Dalton *sigh*

*super dreamy*
But the rain... please come again another day. Preferably when I'm at work...

(*So much better than Bear Grylls)

Masala Chai

235 ml water
6g sugar
1 whole cardamom pod
1 whole clove
2 black peppercorns
3g black tea leaves (I love Yorkshire Tea!)
120ml warm milk

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add the cardamom pod, clove, peppercorns and tea leaves. Remove from heat, and let the mixture steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain into a cup, and fill cup the rest of the way with milk.

06 June, 2011


Way back in 2007 I took a 9 week recreational sugarcraft course at Tamworth College. I wanted to do something with my spare time that I enjoyed, and as I come from a family that loves to bake I thought that this would be the perfect way to spend two hours every Tuesday evening, that wouldn't interfere with my job and shift patterns.

Yes, please ignore the very crude photo, but I was extremely chuffed with my efforts from my first proper cake decorating course. It may not look like much, but that was my flowerpaste poinsettia! Don't you just love the glare of the flash against the red of the petals?

At the time, I felt frustarted that I couldn't quite get the hang of using this 'stuff' that was not too dissimilar to chewing gum. My hands were always too hot and made working with flowerpaste really difficult. I almost gave up within the first couple of weeks as it seemed almost impossible to create anything.

Patience and persistence was all I needed. I felt I could create (almost) anything once my poinsettia was complete! Bring it on...

...I mean, just look at my bow cake. You want one don't you? Admit it.

And this is my embossed, piped and whatever-else-I-could-get-on-it cake. Simply Beautiful (with a capital B)

Hey kids, you gotta start somewhere.

03 June, 2011

A beautiful day for a bike ride!

Having the day off today I decided to make the most of this fab weather and go for a spin on my bike. I headed out of Tamworth towards Wigginton on a ride that I do a lot with Kellie, but as she's sunning it up abroad this week, I'm on my tod.

Please excuse my pasty whites

Look at this lovely house for sale, shame it's just out of our price range.

HELLO! I just love these yellow gates on Sunnyside Farm.

These pots are lovely aren't they?

Wigginton Manor.

Eye eye.


With schools off for Whit Week I thought I might have seen more families out and about on their bikes, sadly no. I did see (and was overtaken by) a few lycra clad gents on their road bikes, I tried to keep up but couldn't be bothered didn't want to miss any of the view.

Look at all these broad beans! The field went on for ages

and potatoes! Lots and lots of potatoes - I hope they'll be sold at our farm shop when they're ready.

Canal in Fisherwick

 Packington pig


What a feast for the eyes! I'm now sporting a rockin' farmers tan on my arms, ending just below my elbows. Where did the sunshine take you today?

28 May, 2011

The sweetest thing

"When can we go out for our next bike ride, Daddy?"

I overheard a little girl asking her dad this as I cycled past them. How sweet?! What's the sweetest thing you've overheard whilst out on your bicycle?

My dilemma

I'm not sure how I happened upon Dottie and Trisha's bicycle blog, Let's Go Ride A Bike, but it is a place that I am always more than happy to visit. I've cycled, mainly for fun, for a lot of my life but it was here that I realised that cycling is more than just a sport and a bicycle is more than just a piece of equipment. Bikes can be used to get to and from work, carry your groceries home from the shops and cycling can be another mode of transport aside from the car or bus. It sounds silly but I never thought about using my bike for this everyday stuff as I more or less used the car to do these things.

It was only when I started reading bicycle blogs that I realised I too wanted to use my bicycle for more than a bike ride every now and again. I'm nowhere near the stage where I'll be car free, although sometimes I wish we were, but for shopping trips and getting to work (except for those 'orrible night shifts) I do want to use the car less.

Now, my poor bike is really feeling his age - I've been using him a lot lately and he's developing a different squeak every day. I think the road to (semi) retirement is getting closer for my dear Marin and a new bicycle to keep him company in the garage is just what he needs. Well, to be honest I've been after a new bike for ages and now seems to be the right time to do it.

When I first started looking for a new bicycle, I immediately fell in love with the Pashley Princess. Handbuilt in Stratford-upon-Avon since 1926, she's quintessentially English (a very odd thing for a Welsh girl to want!) and extremely elegant. Miss Sarah at Girls and Bicycles, another great bike blog, has put together some fab information about her experiences with her Pashley in her posts, Pashley 101, Pashley 201 and Pashley 202.

  The Pashley really is a beautiful bike... Miss Sarah sells it well.

But! The more I read about Dottie's Workcycles Azor Oma, I'm in love!


She seems more solidly built than Pashley, if you know what I mean, but just as pretty! Dottie has a thorough review and lots of beautiful pictures of Oma, so you can see why she's on my wish list.

Then I discovered the Velorbis Dannebrog through another review by Dottie (she's a busy girl)


Isn't she's pretty in red? I want to try her out too.

My head hurts. There's too much choice - what is a girl to do? Truth be told, I think I've fallen for the Pashley. My first crush is hard to beat so I need to get me a sweet test ride from one of my local bike shops and take it from there!

Which one would you go for?!

22 May, 2011

Wayne Thiebaud

I recently discovered the work of artist Wayne Theibaud.

Display Cakes (1969)

Around the Cake (1962)

This is my favourite - I fell in love with it as soon as I set eyes on it.

Cakes (1963)

 I couldn't believe it when I found that a couple had recreated these cakes for their wedding!




 How lovely to see them in real life! I'd love to get my greedy mitts on a slice or two of these cakes, and even give them a go myself.

What do you think of these edible paintings? Would you break from the traditional, classic wedding cake or are you more of a modern kinda cake gal? (...or guy, there's no sexism here)

19 May, 2011


I want to break into song! My bike computer broke the 500 mile mark whilst I was out on my bike ride the other evening! Woohoo!

Even though I've had my bike for years, I only bought my computer towards the end of last year so I'm really chuffed with how far my little legs have taken me!

So ladies and gentlemen, in honour of my mini milestone, I give you The Proclaimers...

Bless their strawberry blonde, bespectacled faces. This is one tune I will most definitely be humming on my next bike ride!

16 May, 2011

Early Morning Airport

Playing taxi driver for an airport run is never fun for the person who's not going on holiday. Today that person was me.

Mr. Emma and Ben are off on a jolly to Amsteradm and I have unfortunately been relegated to cab driver. BOOO. Having to be up at 4.30am this morning was a real shock to the system, but there's something about airports that make me really excited and super jealous of all those fab places people are flying to.

Airports are also brilliant for people watching and are therefore the perfect place for Mr. Emma and I to play 'Guess the Destination' whilst we wait for Ben to arrive. Can you guess where the leather faced old lady is going on holiday fom the departures board? We watch with glee when she toddles over to the Benidorm check-in desk - woohoo!

So, I'm home alone and off work until Wednesday. I popped over to visit my big bro today; finally picked up my India pics (!); the boy has an appointment with the vet tomorrow morning and I have a fun bike ride planned with Kellie tomorrow evening. Yay! But back to work on Wednesday evening for a shift full of this AND midnight showings? Not Yay

Do you have any fun holidays planned that will make me green with envy?

07 May, 2011

It had to happen

I got my first puncture in about 10 years on the way home from my bike ride a couple of nights ago.

This... what caused me to get a flat a mile from home. Do you see the white dot in the middle of my tyre? Doesn't it look innocent?

Thinking I'd cycled over some glass, imagine my horror when I found the King Kong of thorns protruding through my tyre.

I hoped my patch job would be enough to get me through my bike ride this evening...

Me and my tyre made it home in one piece!

Chocolate Cake

It seems that searching for the perfect chocolate cake recipe is much harder than you think. I'm telling you... it's really tough.

Chocolate Cake = The Holy Grail?
I've baked two chocolate cakes this week for one birthday celebration, but somehow the cakes didn't quite hit the mark.

I happened to discover Seven Spoons earlier this week whilst perusing another blog. Take a look, it's beautiful. Anyway, I scoured the recipe section and found a handful of recipes for chocolate cake. After reading each post I realised that I'm not the only gal in search of chocolate baked perfection.

The first cake I thought about baking was Beatty's Chocolate Cake from Ina Garten. Now, I have baked this cake before but it was quite a while ago. Unfortunately, during baking it exploded all over my poor little oven - I've never quite recovered. I can remember tasting part of the cake and being very disappointed as it tasted like, what can only be described as 'faux cake' (sorry Betty), I didn't want to go there again so I decided to bake the next cake on the list.

This cake seemed really promising. The recipe can be found here, and with over 1400 positive reviews I admit that I was getting a teeny bit excited, as you can imagine. The ingredients for this cake makes a 10" round, but I only needed enough for an 8"- not knowing how to scale down cake sizes I just got straight into the baking... 12 cupcakes, an 8" cake and a single layer of 6" cake later, I was done. I just had to wait just a little longer to try 'everyones "go-to" chocolate cake' - I couldn't bear it! I threw together a coffee whipped cream which would be lovely inside the cake and finally, once the cakes had cooled, I sandwiched them together and cut my first slice...

Well, I want to be honest here, it tasted just like Ina's cake. In my humble opinion 'just add water' cakes does not a good cake make. I want that baked from scratch, homely satisfying taste from my cakes and unfortunately it didn't deliver. I feel I must apologise to those 1400 people that have raved about the cake, but sorry peeps I'm not a fan. The cake was beautifully dark and moist, but texture wise it was too crumbly. I'm looking for cake with substance, that can hold up to a smothering of icing and a blanket of sugarpaste without wilting under its own weight. I'm afraid, this cake didn't make the cut for the birthday celebration. I can report, however, that the coffee whipped cream worked a treat and perhaps saved the cake from being banished from my kitchen.

And so, to the second cake. I moved away from Seven Spoons and onto more familiar culinary territory - Nigella Lawson. Her old fashioned chocolate cake sounded divine, and the use of sour cream in the mix could only be heavenly. This recipe only called for an 8" round cake rather than a 10", thankfully - there is only so much cake a girl can eat. Could this be the cake?

It baked up beautifully in the tins and the smell was wonderful. A little paler in colour than the first cake and seemed to be firmer in texture, I decided that I would use this for the birthday cake. Upon tasting I was once again a bit disappointed. The chocolate flavour wasn't as pronounced as I'd hoped, it somehow lacked in depth which I thought the sour cream would have brought. It went down well with the birthday girl, but this here girl baker is still on the lookout for that elusive chocolate cake recipe...

Do you have a favourite recipe for chocolate cake that you couldn't live without? Or, like me, are you still trying to track down the best chocolate cake ever?

30 April, 2011

Bad Photographer

Slumdog Millionaire is on the telly and I'm reminded of our trip to India earlier this year. What an adventure! I really want to go back.

Ok, so we came back from India at the beginning of March and I still haven't had my photo's developed. Terrible aren't I? I've been meaning to get them done for ages but I've just not got round to it yet. I promise I'll get them developed this week.

Anyway, here's a photo Ian took of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur from the rooftop restaurant of our hotel

Such a beautiful city *sigh*

Hello Kitty

Another work colleague asked me to bake a cake, this time it was a Hello Kitty cake for their daughter's 9th birthday.

 She looks so sweet sat on top of the cake. I felt guilty stabbing a toothpick through her body so her head would stay on...

Happy 9th Birthday Alicia!

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