All Change

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We’ve moved to London!

Over the summer, my boyfriend Jonny and I both got new jobs, me in Islington and Jonny in Oxford Circus. I got my job first and as soon as I did, we decided that we wanted to move to London, cat and all. I know a lot of people commute from Chelmsford but for us, the price we were paying to live in our house plus a monthly season ticket (£450!) each just didn’t make sense. Jonny had been wanting to move to the big smoke for ages and it just seemed like the right time.

Seriously.

Seriously.

So we gave notice on our house and started looking for a flat. We decided on Walthamstow, because it’s cheap (ish, it’s still London), close to Essex and it’s not on the Central line. We found a really lovely Warner flat, which are really common in this part of London apparently and are basically purpose-built Victorian flats. The flat is so much brighter than our little cave-house and the kitchen is about 3 times the size of our old one. We’ve even got a (shared) garden! Our commutes are pretty sweet now too, just 20 minutes for Jonny and 25 for me.

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My brilliant family helped us move but it wasn’t the smoothest of starts after they left- we soon discovered that there was no TV arial(!), the boiler leaked and the oven didn’t work. Also, I changed a lightbulb in the living room and for some reason that made every light in the house blow up. We spent our first night eating takeaway kebabs (which were actually excellent), in the dark while watching Gavin and Stacey on DVD because that’s all we could find, quietly weeping. But all these problems were soon easily sorted with an indoor arial, change of fuse and a polite but forceful letter to the lettings agent. Living in London has been great ever since.

We’ve been here almost three months so far and we’ve had a bit of an explore around the area. Walthamstow’s actually quite pretty; it has a beautiful canal that you can cycle all the way to Waltham Abbey on and it’s right near Epping Forest, which is really lovely for a walk. There’s a few things to see here too- God’s Own Junkyard near Walthamstow village is a weird showroom/shop devoted to neon lights that is free to enter and is absolutely amazing to look round on a Sunday. It even has a little courtyard garden and cafe that does sandwiches and nice coffee.

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I’ve eaten some great food since moving too. Last week, Jonny and I went to Street Feast, which has moved to Hawker House in Canada Water for the winter. There were some great stalls; not least Meringue Girls, where they were selling chocolate cupcakes with hot chocolate sauce, ice cream and a little meringue ghost on top. Absolutely amazing for £4. The spicy brisket buns and mini tacos were great too and I’m definitely going back soon to test out everything else.

Also, I’ve finally got into coffee! Well, lattes. I’ve been testing all the coffee places around mine and Jonny’s work and I so far rate Love Die Latte in Soho and Saint Espresso right next to work on Pentonville Road. And yes, I’ll finally agree, it does taste completely different to Starbucks (although I’ll always love a venti caramel latte).

Lastly I can’t write about food in Walthamstow without mentioning Jesse’s Cafe on the High Street whose strong tea and full English really sorted us out after some serious wedding drinking. It’s also mega cheap and always seems to be full of policemen, if that’s your bag.

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If I’ve missed a great part of Walthamstow or you’d like to point me in the direction of a wanky coffee place I’ll definitely love, let me know in the comments!

Clare xx

@ClareErin

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Birthday Cake

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At work I have a reputation to protect. Not for being tough, or speaking my mind or even being particularly good at my job. Without even trying, simply by turning up one day in a big skirt with a satchel, I am the office girly girl.

I have a pink lunch box, Hello Kitty tissues and once announced that I always used limes instead of lemons because limes are ‘a prettier colour.’ I run to the window whenever we hear horses outside (always for a funeral, so I must look like a death-obsessed goth to the offices over the road). I have also been limping for over a week because I chose pretty, spotty trainers instead of actual, functional running shoes. See, not particularly clever but definitely girly.

So when it was my birthday last week (thirty-one, thank you very much) I had to a make a cake that lived up to my girly reputation. I decided to make a big, traditional lime (obvs) sponge with a buttercream and lime curd filling, using a tried and tested Nigella madeira cake and a curd recipe I found online.

Lime Madeira Cake (Adapted very slightly from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess)

Double the amounts to make the 2 cakes

  • 240g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Grated zest & juice of 1 lime
  • 3 large eggs
  • 210g self-raising flour
  • 90g plain flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/325ºF.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, with a spoonful of flour for each
  4. Gently mix in the rest of the flour and lime juice
  5. Pour into a cake tin and bake for about an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Cool in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack

I baked the two sponges in springform tins and when the cake was put together it was ENORMOUS. So big that when there was a wedge left it collapsed under it’s own weight and had to be thrown away. So maybe use regular Victoria Sponge tins?

Lime Curd (Taken from BBC Good Food website)

  • 112g plus 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 25g cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Freshly grated lime zest of 1 lime

Method

  1. In a heavy saucepan cook the sugar, butter, eggs and lime juice over a moderately low heat. Whisk frequently, until it is thick enough to hold marks of whisk, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Immediately pour the curd through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the zest of one lime and cool.

I think I scrambled my curd quite badly but once it went through a sieve it was absolutely fine, but I think I’d do it over a bain marie when I make it again just to make sure it stayed smooth.

But how to girly up such an enormous cake? I saw a beautiful cake on Instagram made by Emma from A Beautiful Mess and decided to base it on that. The main thing that went wrong with this plan is that the cake I was copying had frosting all over and piping on top, but I only bought one tub of buttercream so could only do a layer inside with the curd and some on top (as I’ve mentioned before, I DO NOT make frosting). I decided that the filling showing and the curd oozing out looked a bit country-cottage anyway.

To make the cake look really Disney-princess, I scattered heart sprinkles and pink sugar around the edges of the cake and then dotted Love Hearts randomly. I finished with some edible glitter and put it on a pink cake board. Finished!

I text a photo of the final cake to my mum and she described it as the “campest thing I’ve ever seen.” She may have a point.

You might notice that there’s no photos of ingredients or the making of the cake. This is because all the lights in the kitchen died at once and we’re now cooking by lamplight like squatters, which is annoying. But that doesn’t matter because we are moving! To a house with stairs! As much as I love this flat; it’s the first place I’ve lived properly alone and I really love the big rooms here, it is exciting to be moving to a new place. But it does mean the next couple of weeks will be full of cleaning, polyfilla and paying out lots of money, it seems. Moving house is expensive! It will definitely be worth it though.

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