New radio show schedule!

cam105FM logoThe ‘Our Mill Road‘ show started on Cambridge 105 FM earlier this year and, as you would expect, is dedicated to all things Mill Road. It’s presented by Ceri Littlechild and each show gives the low down on news, events, projects and more happening on and around Mill Road. If you want to listen to past editions of the show, including interviews with local people, you can find all the podcasts here (the first show back in January even includes an interview with yours truly!).

microphoneThe show has been enjoying a regular Sunday evening stint every fourth week, but as of this month it is moving to a new Saturday afternoon slot. So the next show will be this coming Saturday (14th September) from 2-3pm. There are also a few other changes to the Cambridge 105 schedule, including the Paul Christoforou show, which is moving from Tuesday afternoons to a weekly Sunday night slot – next show this Sunday (15th September) from 10pm until midnight. Those of you who are regular listeners of Paul’s show may have heard him interviewing me back in June – I’d only popped in for a brief chat, but ended up staying for the whole show!

Mill Road signCeri has asked me to guest present this Saturday’s ‘Our Mill Road’ show and I’ve got lots of exciting news and events from the Mill Road area, including news of two new eateries opening soon on Mill Road as well as events coming up over the next few weeks – including this weekend – and various bits of news from the local area. So if there’s anything you think needs a mention on the radio then please get in touch before Friday and I’ll do my best to include it!

Our Mill Road – Saturday 14th September, 2-3pm on Cambridge 105 FM.

A slice of the action…

Taank Optometrists opened on Mill Road in 2003 and this year they are celebrating not only ten years of the practice but also one hundred years of there being an optometrists practice at the very same site. To mark the centenary, Taank decided to host a Bake Off on Saturday, with professionals and amateurs invited to make cakes along a glasses theme…

Stilt WalkerWith special guest David Baddiel set to judge the contest, alongside owner Anjana Taank, I knew that the day would be an entertaining one. I had been tempted to enter the Bake Off myself (though I’m not quite sure how the blog headline ‘David Baddiel at my cake‘ would have gone down…) but time factors meant it was going to be a bit too rushed. However, being at a Bake Off on Parkers Piece on a beautifully sunny Saturday afternoon felt like a very appropriate and ‘Cambridge’ thing to do and lots of passers by dropped in, as well as of course the bakers themselves and eager friends and families keen to see who would be crowned star baker. In fact there was a slightly surreal moment when I looked out of the marquee and saw people carrying cake boxes and slowly walking towards the marquee from all directions on Parkers Piece!

David BaddielWhen David Baddiel arrived he was more than happy to pose for photos and sign books brought along by fans. He admitted that the Bake Off was his first such event and that it probably wouldn’t do his waistline much good, but he and Anjana soon got in to the swing of judging the contest and quizzing the entrants about their cake designs and ingredients. There were lots of cakes to get through and so I reasured myself that not baking had actually been a good call – I don’t think David or Anjana would have thanked me if they’d had to eat any more cake!

Dame Edna inspired cakeI was intrigued as to what kind of designs people would come up with, but I have to say that every single one of the cakes looked fantastic and temptingly delicious. One of my favourites was a Dame Edna themed cake made by a lady called Christine – it was beautifully made with intricate icing designs and came complete with obligatory outlandish purple glasses, in fact I tweeted about it over the weekend and even had the real Dame Edna Everage spot it and favourite my tweet!

Despicable Me CakeThe Wooden Spoon award went to Paul Mearman, who made a cake in the shape of a glasses case, and the runner up was Reuben Daly who made an amazingly colourful multi-layered cake aptly called ‘The Spectrum’. The winner was Fiona McDuff (who some of you may know as the winner of the Cambridge Bake Off earlier this year) who made an absolutely amazing Despicable Me minion cake, complete with eye chart, Taank Optometrists logo and ‘100 Years’ glasses. She had obviously put a lot of effort in to getting it perfect and explained that the main part of the cake was made with around twelve layers! I had never seen anything quite like it before and she was a most deserving winner.

David Baddiel did a great job of judging and entertaining us all throughout, in fact I suspect he’d have a very promising new career should he ever decide to diversify into cake comedy (I adore Mel & Sue, but perhaps he could stand in when one of them is off sick…?). It was a great day out and a unique way to celebrate the centenary, and next time there’s a Bake Off near me I’m definitely entering…!

Blog birthday giveaway!

There's something about Mill Road...I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but it’s now been over a year since ‘There’s something about Mill Road’ entered the blogosphere! It started as a hobby that I hoped a few people might read from time to time, but I have been – and continue to be – amazed by just how much interest there has been in my ramblings, not just from the Mill Road area itself and Cambridge, but across the UK and even beyond.

My first post was about, erm, chocolate; and since then I’ve written about all sorts of Mill Road related things – from events, books and recipes to community projects, photography and the particularly popular topic of our local pubs. Thank you so much to everyone who has read any of my posts, been following me on Twitter or who keeps up to date via my Facebook page – there wouldn’t be much point without you! As a thank you to all you lovely people I wanted to offer the chance to win a lovely Mill Road prize, so I’ve decided to do a special giveaway. Those of you who have been following the blog may have noticed my penchant for pubs, food and art, so I thought what better than a prize combining all three…

Earl of BeaconsfieldSince the Earl of Beaconsfield changed hands last year, the pub has been transformed into the place to be for music, with weekly events including the Monday night Open Mic sessions and regular Saturday night gigs – tomorrow you can catch the Watertight Jazz group and on 17th August following on from the Great Eastern Street Party, you can catch The Great Eastern Street Preachers. They have successfully carried on the tradition of serving the best pint of Guinness in Cambridge (which you’ll be pleased to hear I’ve tested and personally verified, all in the name of research…!) and also now do sumptuous stone-baked pizzas. Susie & Matt at the Beaconsfield have very kindly offered £30 of vouchers for the giveaway!

FrameworksFrameworks have been catering to the picture framing needs of Cambridge artists and art lovers for over twenty years and moved to their Mill Road home back in 2011, but what may be less well known is that they offer free mountboard to local school and charity groups. I love that every two weeks there’s a new exhibition to look at in their window – one of my favourites has been food artist Jimi Kazak – and during the Romsey Art Festival (which runs until 17th August) you can see the work of local artist Sarah Blake. The lovely chaps at Frameworks have offered a £20 voucher for the giveaway!

ONE LUCKY PERSON WILL WIN:
2 x £10 vouchers for the Earl of Beaconsfield, each voucher entitling the recipient to one of their delicious stone-baked pizzas plus a pint/glass of wine/soft drink AND
1 x £20 voucher for Frameworks, for the recipient to spend at their picture framing shop on Mill Road.

THERE WILL ALSO BE A RUNNER-UP PRIZE OF:
– A £10 voucher for the Earl of Beaconsfield, entitling the recipient to a stone-baked pizza and drink.

To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is one of the following:
1. Subscribe to this blog (which means you’ll be the first to hear about new blog posts, as you’ll receive a notification email) before the closing date, by entering your email address in the ‘Follow this blog’ section, near the top right of the home page. To let me know that you want this to count as your entry into the competition (or if you’re already following the blog) please add a comment at the bottom of this blog post (or instead of a comment you can send an email to theressomethingaboutmillroad@hotmail.co.uk) by the closing date.
OR
2. Follow me on Twitter and retweet any of my Twitter posts marked #MillRoadGiveaway – only applies to posts on/before 21st August (you can retweet more than one post if you like, but it will only count as one entry for the draw).
OR
3. If you want to double your chances you can do both of the above! 🙂

So if you’ve acquired some art at the Romsey Art Festival and need to get it framed, or you’re looking for the perfect excuse to pop to the pub – why not enter the giveaway. Good luck! 🙂

Rules: This giveaway is open to UK residents only and the winners will be independently drawn at random from all those who have completed step 1, 2 or 3 above by the closing date. Entry is free. Automated entries not accepted. The closing date is Wednesday 21st August at 11:59pm. The draw will take place within seven days of the closing date. When notified of their win, the prize winners will need to provide a UK postal address for their prizes to be sent to. In the event of being unable to contact the winner/s within fourteen days of the draw, another winner/s will be drawn. By entering the draw, entrants agree that in the event of them winning the competition their name and city/town can be published on this blog (and associated accounts on Twitter and Facebook).

Romsey Art Festival

Romsey Art Festival posterThe first ever Romsey Art Festival starts on Saturday and will run until 17th August. The idea for the festival was developed by a group of artists at Cambridge Art Salon last year and over the last few months they have been busy organising and co-ordinating a whole host of events to run across the fortnight – including art activities, exhibitions and a market, as well as poetry, film screenings, music, workshops and talks.

Art Market PosterThis Saturday looks set to be the main day of activity, with events taking place throughout Romsey and along Mill Road. There will be an Arts & Crafts Market organised by LittleBiggs – local artists Ceri Ann Littlechild and Dan Biggs – featuring jewellery, ceramics and various art works for sale, as well as portrait artists on hand on the day and also a live mural painting which everyone can join in. The market runs from 10am until 3pm at Hope Street Yard and there will also be food stalls there courtesy of local ice cream extraordinaire Jacks Gelato and burger experts Steak & Honour. A little further down Mill Road you can find Cambridge Cinema Shorts presenting films at Romsey Labour Club, including a children’s screening at 11am and a 15+ screening at 2pm. There’s also a Bento Workshop at the Junction from 12-3pm and a Creative Writing Workshop run by Patrick Widdess at the Bath House on Gwydir Street from 2-5pm; and if you missed the recent Cambridge Open Studios exhibitions then you can catch artists Susie Olczak & Harry Gray hosting their own open studios at 53a St Philips Road from 10am-5pm.

Shindig closing partyDr Doodleys Drink & Draw is a fortnightly meet up for local artists which started last year, and on 6th August Sa’adiah Khan will be hosting their next event – ‘Collabradoodle’ will look at challenging ideas of control and restraint in art and is at Hot Numbers from 7-9pm. The Cambridge Map Project will also be hosting various events (see the festival blog for more info and a full list of events) and if you’re planning to head down to the festival then do keep an eye out for new art works popping up around you – the event organisers were recently looking for residents and groups to donate the walls of their buildings for art. Rounding off proceeedings on 17th August will be a special closing party, hosted by Shindig. If you haven’t heard of Shindig before it’s a collaboration of alternative music, arts and entertainment and they host regular nights across Cambridge, including Mill Road. The closing party will be held at St Philip’s Church on the corner of Thoday Street, 8-11pm.

It looks like there’ll be plenty going on and lots of new things to try – I love Japanese food and really want to go along to the Bento Workshop, but it’s on at the same time as the Creative Writing Workshop, and the Art & Craft Market… decisions, decisions!

Best indie pub

pint of beerLocal MP Julian Huppert launched his Discovering Cambridge competition in January, in order to support the independent shops and businesses we have here in Cambridge. People nominate their favourite in a different category throughout each month, with a winner announced at the end of the month. There will also be an over all winner announced at the Mill Road Winter Fair on 7th December.

The Mill Road area has had winners in three of the six categories so far and now lays claim to Cambridge’s best independent music shop (Rhythm Online), best independent specialist food & drink outlet (Limoncello) and best independent coffee shop (Hot Numbers). The category for July is best independent pub and you can nominate your favourite by email, twitter or post – see Julian Huppert’s website for more information.

Beer bottlesBest independent pub is an interesting category – the vast majority of pubs are owned by larger breweries and chains; yet they are, in the main, run by a landlord and/or landlady who probably runs only that pub and who brings their own character to the place. Pubs that are part of larger breweries and chains often have certain restrictions placed on them (such as only being allowed to purchase their beer from a specific provider) but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of room for making their own unique mark in their local communities (in fact, I reckon most people would be more likely able to name the landlord/landlady of their local than which pub company it belongs to…). I’m not quite sure what definition Julian is going with for his competition (and where part-tied pubs fit in) but if it’s only pubs that are not tied to a larger chain or which are the only pub run by that tenant/owner, then that leaves just a small handful in Cambridge.

Earl of BeaconsfieldI’m going to nominate the Earl of Beaconsfield – Susie and Matt took over the pub last October and have made it into a really lovely place that not only looks after its existing regulars but is welcoming to new visitors too. There’s all sorts of regular music nights (Sunday blues jam, Monday open mic session, Tuesday acoustic jam, Thursday Irish music session and regular jazz Saturdays) and they’re all free, the back room that was previously out of bounds has now been completely transformed into a large games room, the pub now serves food and the beer garden has also had a much needed makeover. They’ve also set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for the pub, as well as recently launching a brand new website. Given all the hard work Susie and Matt have put in to the Beaccy and the great changes that have come as a result in such a short space of time (and bearing in mind the fact that they had never run a pub before!) I think they thoroughly deserve some recognition for their efforts.

Mill Road itself has lost over 60% of its public houses in the last twelve years alone, and now just two pubs remain. So there’s never been a more important time to make sure you use your local, and the sunny weather is the perfect time to try out the ones you haven’t been to for a while or visited before. Just don’t forget to nominate your favourite indie pub by 31st July (tomorrow!).

Appeal to honour couple

Last week I read the very sad news that a homeless Cambridge couple – Jimmy Sinclair and Kim Reid – had died by the river near Jesus Green. I didn’t know the couple, but when I saw a picture of Jimmy via the Flack website a couple of nights ago I realised that I recognised him as he was a familiar face around Mill Road; and when I showed Mr Mill Road the picture, he realised it was actually Jimmy & Kim he had bought a copy of Flack Magazine from on Mill Road just a couple of weeks before and he remembered chatting to them.

Flack MagazineJimmy and Kim had planned to get married later this year and Kim’s family want to honour the couple by burying them together, so at the end of last week Flack appealed for donations in order to help the family afford the burial and funeral costs. I had planned this blog post to be about the appeal and to let people know how to donate, but there has already been a fantastic response and in just a couple of days they have been successful in raising the full target amount of £2,500. Although the appeal itself is now closed, if you would like more information please visit the Just Giving page and if you would like to support local Petersfield-based charity Flack then please visit their website. You can of course also support Flack by buying your copy of their monthly magazine from their friendly vendors in locations across the city – including Mill Road.

Cambridge Open Studios 2013

Saturday saw the opening of the 2013 Cambridge Open Studios – an annual exhibition where local artists open up their studios and homes to the public across four weekends in July. It’s a great opportunity to find out more about the artists and see where they work, as well as enjoy what is probably the largest art exhibition in Cambridge (albeit at a range of venues) – there are over 269 artists taking part this year!

Jersey CowThe roots of Cambridge Open Studios go back to the 1960’s and this year’s exhibitors include sculptors, potters, ceramicists, silversmiths, furniture makers and printers – as well as those working with more traditional media – so there should be something for everyone. I usually take the opportunity to go and see work locally when the exhibition is on and this year there are over twenty exhibitors on and around Mill Road alone – including animal sculptor JJ Vincent, jewellery designer Lindsay Duff and painters Sheila Farrant and Tim O’Brien. This year I’ll also be taking a trip out to some of the ones further afield – if you haven’t seen Georgia Record‘s artwork yet then I highly recommend a viewing. Her work is mainly oil painting on canvas, stick-and-ink drawings and photography and she’s one of the most exciting young artists whose work I’ve seen!

You can search for exhibitors by name, location, media type or even on a map. You don’t need to book and it’s free, so if you want to get to know your neighbours better why not drop in to some of the exhibitions near you!

Chocolate fudge sponge cake

I decided to make a chocolate fudge sponge cake on Sunday, as a Father’s Day present for my Dad. It was my first chocolate sponge but after the success of my other recent cakes I hoped it wouldn’t be too difficult. I already had the fudge chunks in the cupboard and was able to get the rest of the ingredients on Mill Road. Although most of the chocolate sponge cake recipes I looked at suggested cocoa powder, after discovering this handy conversion table I decided to use melted chocolate instead…

Chocolate fudge sponge cakeIngredients
175g dark chocolate
125g softened butter
200g sugar
180g self raising flour
2 eggs
100ml milk
30g miniature fudge pieces
White icing (optional)

Melted chocolateI set the oven to gas mark 4 and started by lining the base of a buttered nine inch cake tin with a large sheet of greaseproof paper, adding a little more butter to the paper too. I then broke up a 100g bar of dark chocolate into chunks (it’s easier to do this before you open the packet!) and melted the pieces in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. I stirred this continuously while it melted and made sure that the bottom of the bowl didn’t touch the water and also that the chocolate didn’t boil. This took just a couple of minutes and I then set the chocolate aside to cool.

Sponge cakeI mixed 75g of soft butter and 50g of the cooled melted chocolate with 200g of sugar, before beating two eggs (one at a time) into the mixture. I then added 180g of flour, 100ml of milk and the remaining melted chocolate to my mixture – alternating between adding a little of each of the three ingredients and making sure I mixed thoroughly between adding each. I gave this another thorough mix for a couple of minutes before stirring in about 30g of mini fudge chunks. I poured the mixture into my lined cake tin and levelled with my new KBF (kitchen best friend!) – the spatula – before popping in the centre of the oven.

Chocolate fudge sponge cakeI’d normally expect one of my cakes to take about twenty minutes to bake, but this particular one took thirty before my skewer test was sucecssful. I set the cake aside to cool for a good twenty minutes before removing from the tin – which was easily done as I’d made sure the greaseproof paper lining was about 1cm bigger than the tin all the way round the edge. I let the cake cool for another half hour before making my cholcolate icing – this was made by melting another 75g of dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan and allowing to cool for ten minutes, before mixing in 50g of softened butter. After mixing thoroughly for a couple of minutes it was lovely and shiny in texture. I drizzled the rich chocolate icing over the cake, starting in the middle and working out to the sides – levelling off with a spatula.

chocolate fudge sponge cakeThe cake looked delicious covered in its rich chocolate icing, but it needed ‘Dadifying’ for its presentation later in the afternoon, so I used some white icing for the lettering and scattered a few more pieces of fudge over the cake. The cake went down a treat, with my Dad managing a whole three slices (!) in a matter of minutes. I shall definitely be making this cake again – next time double layered!

Summer Event & Carnival this weekend!

The Petersfield Area Community Trust (PACT) are holding their Summer Event this Saturday on Norfolk Street, starting at midday and running through until 5pm. There’s lots to see and do on the day, including live music, street art and exhibitions, cheerleading, belly dancing, sports, facepainting, a treasure hunt and a Carnival Parade.

PACT Summer Event 2013 poster 2

There will be a charity auction, where you can bid for the chance to win a days motorbike training, a Dell computer, a year’s free swimming or even a gallon of ale; and also a tombola, with prizes including meals for two, event tickets and a full body Swedish massage! All the prizes have been donated by local businesses, including The Dobblers and Kymmoy as well as Mill Road’s Nutters Hair Salon and Tulip Restaurant (more information and a full list of prizes can be found on the PACT website). There will also be various workshops throughout the day, including a hula hooping workshop led by Siana – winner of Petersfield’s Got Talent 2012 and Bling Ya Ting 2013 – and a session run by Cambridge Community Circus. For the full line up of events, performances, workshops and activities, please see the PACT website.

The PACT Team are still keen to hear from anyone who can help out on Saturday – whether setting up, stewarding during the day or helping clear up afterwards. If you can spare a couple of hours on Saturday, please email pactcambridge@bigfoot.com. Whether you fancy your chances in the silent auction, want to see some local art, try your hand at hula-hooping or enjoy some live jazz, the PACT/Norfolk Street Summer Event looks like it will have something for everyone!

Festival comes to Mill Road…

A buskerThe Cambridge Buskers & Street Performers Festival 2013 will be taking place on the weekend of 28th-30th June. The festival, which started in 2008, sees lots of performers and musicians playing across the city and this year there’s a packed line up of performances on and around Mill Road – including outside the Earl of Beaconsfield, Urban Larder, Perfect Pizza, Hope Street Yard and The Co-operative.

Buskers & Street Performers Festival 2013The festival programme has a list of all the acts performing and the locations of each – though do check the website for updates – and talks about what a great area Mill Road is (see page 12) and even mentions this very blog! There’s lots of acts performing on all three days and on Saturday at Hope Street Yard there will also be various food stalls, including Mill Road’s own Perfect Pizza and local ice cream extraordinaire Jack’s Gelato. If you haven’t tried Jacks Gelato before then I highly recommend you do – as well as delectable classics such as chocolate and vanilla, Jack makes lots of other tempting flavours and even his own allotment rhubarb sorbet! He can be found throughout the summer at various locations around town, including Mill Road.

Gwydir Street Party poster 2013Saturday 29th June is also the day of the Gwydir Street Party – which is Victorian themed this year to mark 150 years of the street – and there will be lots of music and entertainment throughout the day including a hog roast, beer festival, circus performers, a puppet show and several stalls. So it certainly looks like the Mill Road area is the place to be for the last weekend in June!

Below is the current line-up of buskers and performers who will be around Mill Road as part of the festival.

FRIDAY 28TH JUNE
Earl of Beaconsfield:
1-2pm TJ & The Doghouse
2-3pm The Revellators Duo
8:30pm The Broadside Boys
Perfect Pizza:
1-2pm The Revellators Duo
Urban Larder:
1-2pm John Meed

SATURDAY 29th JUNE
Co-operative Mill Road:
11am-12pm The Misspent Ukes
Earl of Beaconsfield:
12-1pm The Misspent Ukes;
Further acts throughout the day TBC.
Hope Street Yard:
11-11:20am Sammy Magic
11:20-11:40 Magic Man
11:45-12:15 Sarah Louise
12:20-1pm Finkel Brothers
1:15-2pm Flaming June
2:15-3pm Tomi Komi
3:15-4:15 The Revellators Duo
4:20-5pm Music & Spies
5:10-5:50pm Hope Brothers Band
6-6:45pm Ellis & Connelly
7-8pm Broken Arrow
Perfect Pizza:
1-2pm Paul McCaffery
3-4pm Music & Spies
Urban Larder:
12-1pm Paul McCaffery

SUNDAY 30th JUNE
Co-operative Mill Road:
12-1pm Paul McCaffery
1-2pm The Times
2-3pm Cate Williams
3-4pm Ain’t Misbehavin
Earl of Beaconsfield:
1-2pm Rebecca Heyne
2-3pm Flaming June
3-4pm Gog Magog Molly
Perfect Pizza:
1-2pm Ain’t Misbehavin
2-3pm Paul McCaffery
Urban Larder:
12-1pm Rhythm & Shoes
1-2pm Paul McCaffery
2-3pm Ain’t Misbehavin’
3-4pm Graham Hazel