The Power of Summer

Last week my flatmate and I decided to venture out from our 300 degree apartment into the actual outdoors; we both spend a lot of time working and playing meaning our moments together are generally lay horizontal on the sofas, eating ice lollies. A little adventure was needed for the two of us, an adventure that involved going south of the river...

We were off to The Power of Summer, the ‘Riverside Feast’ as orchestrated by the incredible Street Feast and Everyman Cinema. Now, if you’re not already salivating at the thought of any Street Feast venue (check my old post for a little more on their Dalston Yard offerings), get this… it was at Battersea Park. Yes you heard me, the soon to be redeveloped, incredible, otherworldly Battersea Park. I may seem a little excited… I am! Words cannot express how much I love Battersea Power Station. I’ve entered raffles for tours and arranged to go on several ill-fated trips inside before it all closed down to the public, but have never quite made it. I don’t know what it is about those chimneys that get me all riled up and I hope I’m not the only weirdo who gets so excited about the place!

We arrange to meet after work and I had a little time to kill so went for a mooch around the Saatchi Gallery before I met my pal. The gallery is brilliantly curated (stating the obvious I know!!) with some amazing pieces (and some that baffle me – duct tape stuck to some canvass anyone!?). I wasn’t alone for too long though, I met my flatmate by the station and then off we trotted for food, fun and frolics.

The setting was glorious, a grassy area beside the looming towers of the power station. There was grown up Jenga, trampolines and plenty of space for lounging about in the late afternoon sun. As with all Street Feast venues the choice of food was vast - Peruvian street food, smoked ribs, pizza and Caribbean were all on offer. I went for a change to my usual and had an incredible Dog from Dog Town (@DogTownLondon) - the special, with spicy onions and a mango, pineapple chilli salsa. The sausage was smoked to perfection and had that perfect snap when you took a bite. My flatmate went for an old favourite of mine - Le Bun (@LeBunUK), those guys know how much I love them! She did make somewhat of an alternative choice and go for the veggie option (she would be the first to tell you of the look of dismay in my eyes when this decision was made!) but it was fantastic – a chunky slab of goats cheese between lashings of slaw and sauce in between the perfectly toasted brioche bun. I also bought some delicious spiced chips from Flip & Dip because who can resist fresh chips!! We sat in the shadows of the chimneys for what seems like hours, watching the world go by. The perfect night some would say.

I have omitted to tell you there is also a cinema down by the river. Everyman are showing classics down there all summer – there are usually two films on a day! Make sure you check out the website for all their listings, I’ve already got a few booked!! The Power of Summer is a one time thing sadly and only open until the end of August so make sure you get down there before the fun is over. It’ll be the last time you can get near that brilliant power station before it’s redeveloped, which is naturally why I’m going to get down there as frequently as possible!!

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Truck Festival festivities

Last weekend I packed up my car, threw in a sleeping bag (oh how I wish packing was actually so nonchalant!) and headed down the M4 to Oxfordshire. We were off to Truck Festival in the heart of the Cotswolds for a weekend of dancing and live music.

This isn’t a massive, ‘hours walk to the campsite’ job - very much the opposite. The site is located at the beautiful Hill Farm and boasts a small, but perfectly formed campsite and five stages, ranging from the main stage (the Truck stage) to the saloon bar.

I don’t know how often I’ve said it but I am a massive fan of live music. From being about 13 I could think of few things I enjoy more than discovering a new band of seeing a live show, meaning a boutique festival like this was a real treat. There was no standing a mile away from the stage watching a big screen, there were in fact no screens at all at Truck. Instead a Ferris wheel to watch the bands from and stages where you could both hear and see the acts in all their glory.

Absolute highlights for me were Dan Croll, Saint Raymond and the Saturday night headliners, White Lies. Highly commended must go to Swim Deep, Stornoway and Nothing But Thieves. They all lie rather wide on the music spectrum, but for upbeat male lead vocals of the ‘indie/pop/folk/electronic’ persuasion (told you it was broad!) then have a listen to Swim Deep and Dan Croll. For a more sophisticated vibe with a touch of Interpol listen to some of White Lies’ older material. DO have a look at the line up here if you’re interested.

In a nutshell, the atmosphere was serene in the day times and raucous when the sun when down – just how I like it. A mention must go out to the food vendors who sold all sorts from fresh salads, amazing spicy noodles and casseroles and the obvious pizza, burgers and donuts. Also, all proceeds from the food vendors went to a charity of their choosing, which I felt was a really nice touch. The star of the food tent was the smoothies - mixed fruit or banana clearly saved many from the impending hangovers of doom that hung in the air each morning and for £1 they were quite frankly delicious.

It’s sad that that I haven’s got any festivals left for the summer now but I can wait for the autumn when I have a plethora of gigs in hand. I’m most looking forward to Dry the River at The Forum and seeing George Ezra again, twice… it’ll only be the seventh time since April! I’m off on holiday next week but am sure I’ll have some post or other lined up. Happy Wednesday.

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The Carrot Cake

I know it’s summer and we’re all meant to be curbing our sinful cravings with salad and watermelon but I’ll be honest, I haven’t had the time, inclination or motivation to get out and about with my camera.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m loving crisp salads, ice cold juices and walking around with the sun on my skin (although, as a glasses wearer, I am struggling with a constant squint!). On the other had though, there is something about working in an office over summertime that means rather than the assumed emotion to break free from my desktop shackles, I just want to curl up on my sofa at home and hibernate until the next morning!

So, this is one of my standby posts. It isn’t the post you deserve but I’m sure if you make it you’ll excuse me. Even if you don’t make it until October I hope you say - ‘hmmm, Kate was right, I forgive her!’.

This is called ‘The Carrot Cake’ because it is The Carrot Cake. It deserves capitals, it is resplendent, it is awesome and powerful. The recipe was given to me by my dearest of friends who honed and tested it long before I did and is inspired my the one and only Mary Berry and the love of all our lives James Martin. I made a few little additions and voila, the only recipe for a carrot cake you’ll ever need. I baked it originally for a lovely colleague’s birthday – the most wonderful woman who deserved far more than cake, but alas it was all I could give. The sweet cream cheese frosting sits perfectly with a cake that despite the vast quantities of dried fruit sits on the savoury side. Moist, delicious and flavoursome, the ginger gives a subtle kick where the slight sweetness of the sultanas ends. Bake it please, share it, give it to your loved ones. Most of all enjoy it and enjoy the sunshine.

Tuesday was St Swithun’s day and the sun shone aplenty so here’s to the rest of summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to share with you some of the delights of my wonderful neighbourhood and the less exuberant intricacies of my diet soon!

For the Cake
175g  soft dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
150ml olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
200g  wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tbsp ground mixed spice
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g  carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
75g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zest only
1 orange, juice only
100g  sultanas
50g candied peel
50g raisins
50g finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 very ripe banana, mashed
2½ tsp ground cinnamon

For the Frosting
200g butter, softened
600g soft cheese
200g icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
(This is enough to generously frost the two halves and maybe have a little spare so adjust accordingly)


Soak the sultanas and raisins in the orange juice and set aside

Lightly grease two 20cm / 8in round cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment

Whisk the sugar, eggs and olive oil together in a large bowl using an electric hand whisk for 3-4 mins until the mixture is smooth

Sift the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and stir in gently. Fold the grated carrot, pecan nuts, lemon zest, banana and ground cinnamon into the mixture. Then add the raisins, sultanas, ginger and any orange juice left unsoaked and stir gently

Spoon the mixture equally into the cake tins and smooth the surface of each with a spatula. Bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 35-40 mins. They should be nicely risen and feel firm and springy to touch when lightly pressed. If not, cook for a little longer and test again. When ready, cool for 5 mins before removing the cakes from the tin and cooling completely on a wire rack

For the frosting, beat the butter in a bowl with an electric hand whisk for 5 mins until it is light and fluffy. Then starts to mix the icing sugar and cream cheese into the butter a little at a time. Add the vanilla extract before one final whisk. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to ice the cake
Decorate the cake, cut and share!

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