Thursday, February 24, 2011

High Tea... Ealing Style

Sitting on your arse and waiting to be pushed out of a plane isn’t traditionally fun. So on the weekend I had a fundraising ‘do’ at our place to build my confidence, raise awareness, and encourage some further donations.

This led to an interesting observation – I’m more nervous about baking and hosting than I am about skydiving. I think the idea of completing the skydive has been with me for long enough that I’m now immune to any emotions that are tied with it. The thought of preparing food for other people – and being entrusted with the task of not poisoning anyone – is sheer terror. So much so that I did a test run for my batch of Mars Bar slice. My friend Tammy’s recipe, it involved chopping up some Mars Bars, sticking them in the microwave and then mixing with Rice Bubbles before refrigerating. Oh, and topped with melted chocolate. And yes, I did f*#k it up by forgetting to grease the tin... then burning the Mars Bars.

So, being a Sunday afternoon, it was decided that the fundraiser would be a High Tea (of sorts) where I would serve sandwiches, scones, sweet stuff and plenty of tea. And because Cherie’s nan’s cheesy dip has never once disappointed (cob loaf hollowed out and filled with three types of cheese, ham, peppers and spring onion then baked for an hour), we had to roll that out too. Some of my lovely friends also kindly brought along some homemade brownies, for which I was incredibly grateful.

If my goal had been to give all my guests clogged arteries and tooth cavities, then I passed with flying colours. First on the menu was finger sandwiches. There was ham, brie and mustard; chicken, brie and spinach; grapes, brie and mint (sensing a theme here??); and of course, cucumber and cream cheese with chives. Next, came the scones, freshly baked that morning with jam and thickened double cream. And lastly, all the stuff that will get people bouncing off the walls – Katie’s strawberry iced cupcakes, Courtney’s dark chocolate and peanut butter brownies, Sharleen’s brownies and my honey joys and Mars Bar bites. Add to that, the cheesy cob loaf, dip and crackers, crisps and biscuits and no wonder we had to practically roll people to the tube station afterwards.

Ultimately, it was a successful and civilised afternoon, to my great relief. We raised £100 from the day and I hope my friends enjoyed themselves. A big thank you to all the talented bakers who kindly came to my assistance with their delicious cupcakes and brownies, and to my gorgeous housemates who helped me shop, prep, clean, cook, entertain, make tea and clean again. And to all the generous donors – THANK YOU!!

I jump in just 10 days! If you haven’t yet sponsored me and would like to, please visit my fundraising page: The money we raise will be going to The Prostate Cancer Charity who do an amazing job in supporting men and their families living with prostate cancer, fund important research and work tirelessly to raise awareness for prostate cancer in the community.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

When your housemate can predict your time of the month better than you, it’s time to move!

My new favourite bar is B@1 in Hammersmith where they play awesome music and most nights of the week they have happy hour – 241 cocktails. Last night, my housemates and I took full advantage of this. We were celebrating two things – Katie passing her exam and Katie and me finding a new place to live.

It’s rather surreal to think that we are approaching the end of our lease in Ealing. With Cherie heading back to Australia in May, Katie and I decided on a change of scenery and this week set out to suss out the Hammersmith area, to get a feel for the market and prices. We hadn’t planned on viewing any properties until March, about a month before getting booted from our current house. But last weekend, we just happened upon a house, not too dissimilar from our current four-bedroom, in Hammersmith that would become available in April. We called the agent, lined up a viewing, put in an offer the following day and two days after that, paid the deposit. Done! In the coming month we will need to find two more housemates to occupy the spare rooms but much prefer being in this position than the other way around. So if you are looking to move around April and like the sound of Hammersmith, give me a buzz. With four tube lines and about eight bus routes, you can’t go wrong.

So, an eventful week and well deserved cocktails at our soon-to-be local. B@1 has an impressive menu of cocktails from Pisco Sours to Mojitos to Singapore Slings. So you can drink your way around the world. Last night, I started on something vodka based, moved onto something rum based and ended on something ice cream based. That wasn’t the smartest idea and had me on the brink of throwing up for what felt like forever. Half a block of Lindt chocolate and no dinner didn’t help the situation either. The girls coped better than me, but only marginally.

Really looking forward to getting to know the area better once we move in. Pubs by the river, funky bars and cafes, theatres.... if you know of any good Hammersmith secrets, please share!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Here Comes the Sun (And I Say It's All Right)*

I'd like to think I haven't resorted to writing about the weather on this blog. But I do want to make mention the FULL DAY OF SUN we had on Monday. That's right, an entire day from morning to late afternoon of sunshine. Sure, it was 4 degrees for most of it and we still rugged up in coats and scarves, but hello vitamin D. It's funny how something as simple as sunshine can change the mood of... well... everything. It was hard not to smile yesterday - even people on the tube seemed cheerier.

Otherwise, life in London has been rolling along at a spectacular pace. It's hard to believe that we're approaching the last couple of weeks of winter. Days are certainly getting longer and it's not uncommon to be leaving work when the sky is still showing some colour. I have accepted that I probably won't see snow again until December. Which, come to think of it, will probably be upon us before we know it.

I say that because we're moving house soon and I've started the arduous process of househunting this weekend. Who would have thought that we'd be approaching the end of our one year lease already! More likely than not, Katie and I will be looking for new housemates from April so let me know if you're in London and looking too.

And, it's just 18 days until I do my skydive for Prostate Cancer awareness. Please, please, please donate to my fundraising page here:

Even a small donation will make a big difference to The Prostate Cancer Charity and the amazing work that they do.

*In case you missed it, that's a Beatles song and I've been humming it all week. How could you not?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not All Advice Is Good Advice

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the dos and don’ts of skydiving. Because my friends all want to help, of course. Don’t jump if you have a toothache – it’ll make it much worse. If the parachute doesn’t open, aim for trees – you’re more likely to survive. Or, if the parachute doesn’t open and you’re over water, try to hit the surface of the water at an angle of 35 degrees. The fact that Oxford is nowhere near water is the least of my concerns. And did you know that someone once had their parachute cut off by a vindictive “friend” just before they jumped out of the plane? Oh, no, that wasn’t advice – I just read it somewhere once and thought you might be interested to know. Hmmm.... people, stop helping.

Actually, the best bit of advice I received was from TNT magazine this afternoon. It said: as soon as you jump out, shut your mouth. At first, I thought it was to keep the flies out, but then my housemate explained that there probably won’t be any flies at 10,000 ft in the air. But with the strong, cold wind blowing into your mouth, it’ll dry out the mouth within seconds. And probably explains the thing about the toothache too. Note to self: bring lip balm.

A reminder that I’m doing this for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is happening in March in the UK. The idea is to jump out of the plane with arms open wide yelling, ‘I’m Aware!’ I have warned the Charity that, despite all good intentions, there is a small possibility that I will be doing the whole thing in the foetal position.

If you would like to help my cause and think you hold some brilliant wisdom on how to survive a plummet to Earth, you probably don’t. Or I’ve heard it all before and will shortly publish it on this blog. I would, however, prefer your kind donation. To date, I am on £110.00, an awesome figure so thank you to everyone who has already donated. If you haven’t and would like to, please visit:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

So, How Is It February Already???

The start of February often brings with it the wonder and disbelief that we're a month into the year already. A time when most new year resolutions are crumbling apart, one chocolate bar at a time. February is the month when all memories of the previous year are wiped - you can no longer blame the over-eating and over-drinking from the holiday season as an excuse for poor performance at work, and even the 95% off the RRP Christmas decorations have all but disappeared from shops to make room for the army of Easter bunnies who have been well trained by Mr Wonka to further stuff with whatever that remains of those wretched resolutions, or good intentions as I like to call them. All this when, really, all I can focus on is remembering to write 2011 instead of 2010 everytime I fill out a form or have to sign something.

Oh, and don't get me started on Valentines Day.

I've tried Googling for the 'darkest' or 'deadliest' day of the year, supposedly the day in which most suicides happen. I wouldn't be surprised if it fell in February. But, alas, I got distracted by the research that said Wednesday is the deadliest day of the week, where a whopping 25% of suicides happen. Interesting, but irrelevant. But do take care of yourself tomorrow and remember that no matter how bad things seem, I still love you.

So anyway, I do believe that things aren't all bad, certainly if you live in the UK.
Because the quicker the weeks go by, the closer we get, at least, to summer and longer days and the possibility of sun. My love for vitamin D is strong.

On the other hand, I grew up in Australia, where January is the month of summer dresses, beaches, school holidays, barbecues and re-runs of Friends. February marked the end of all that - or at least the opportunity to enjoy the aforementioned sun and crappy TV due to work or school. Couple that with an inability to commit to losing that weight or quitting those cigarettes/chocolates aannnndddd the thought of getting old and you soon find yourself reaching for the vodka... unless you resolved to quit that too. Then you're an idiot.

So this February, I'm being positive and looking forward to summer. I'm staying positive that it will be a long and hot summer too. I'm enjoying chocolate, every calorie of those bunnies. And I intend to get better at writing 2011 without the liquid paper.