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?
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