A Fair Do!

MRWF trufflesI hope everyone enjoyed Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday. There was so much going on that I didn’t even get to see half the things I had hoped to, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. What better way to start the day than with some foodie delights, so I decided to make some dark chocolate and dragon ginger truffles first thing in the morning. Although I am not vegan myself, I have tested various truffle recipes over the last few months and the one that tastes most delicious just happens to be vegan. They seemed to go down a treat with everyone that tried them and I had a few people ask me to make some for them to give as presents – so I will probably be spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen over the next couple of weeks!

MRWF ASh Co-opI did a tour of the very busy Food Fair at Gwydir Street car park, which had some amazing edibles. The crowds were so great that you could only move in one direction, so if you passed a stall without stopping it wasn’t easy to go back. The Afternoon Tease stall had already sold out of all three (!) chocolate and Guinness cakes by the time I arrived, but I did treat myself to one of their lovely rum cup cakes. I saw some delicious looking burgers at one of the farmshop stalls and decided that I had to have one, but then I realised that there was a very long queue indeed, so I’m afraid I gave up. I tasted lots of food at the Fair including a lovely free jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw, courtesy of ‘Joseph’ outside Mill Road Baptist church. But I have to say my favourite food of all was the chickpea curry at Lally’s News, it was really warming and spicy, and possibly the best vegetarian curry I have ever tasted – Amrik and Raj are known locally for their delicious curries, and deservedly so.

MRWF Ash Co-opThere was lots of music along Mill Road and I saw people jiving on the Broadway. At one point I could hear my friends band playing on Mill Road bridge. I heard later from others that so many people were dancing to the music on the bridge during the day that the bridge, rather worryingly, actually started to shake (eek!). There was some great music at Argyle Street Housing Co-op in the afternoon, including musicians from the Jam Band Caravan collective playing folk and reggae, and I even heard some thrash metal at one point (!).

MRWF Mulled WineMyself and Mr Mill Road decided to pop in to the Earl of Beaconsfield in the afternoon in the hope of having a nice warm cup of coffee, but when we arrived the place was packed and everyone seemed to be drinking mulled wine – which sounded like a marvellous idea, and so we ordered some without hesitating. I don’t normally drink red wine, but mulled wine is different and this one tasted so nice that I decided to go and buy the ingredients (cloves, dried ginger, a cinnamon stick and a bottle of Chilean red) on Mill Road so I could try making some at home. The resulting mulled wine was great and I shall definitely be trying this again over the next few weeks (probably quite a few times!).

MRWF ReindeerFor me though, the best part of the Fair was bumping into so many friends as well as chatting to lots of people I’d never met before; and the absolute highlight for me was getting to meet my friends’ daughter for the first time – who at just two and a half weeks old was possibly the Fair’s youngest visitor! A massive well done to everyone involved in making Mill Road Winter Fair happen, including the Committee and all the visitors that came along on the day – it’s great to live in such a diverse and inclusive area that has so many community-minded people.

William, Kate and Jimmy’s

I was determined to at least catch a glimpse of William and Kate on their visit to Cambridge today, not just because I missed out on a planned meeting with a member of the Royal family when I was a child (when my grandmother offered to take me to the little girls room, not realising that it would be during those crucial three minutes that Prince Charles would come over and chat to my Mum and Dad!) but because it seemed fitting as they are the Duke and Duchess of our city. So I decided to venture up to Jimmy’s Night Shelter at midday in the hope of seeing them. I timed it well and even though there were crowds lining East Road on both sides, I managed to get to the front (I seem to have a nack for this sort of thing and am known amongst friends for always managing to get a table in pubs that seem otherwise packed!).

The lady next to me told me that she’d been in to town this morning in the hope of seeing them, but that she couldn’t get anywhere near Market Square or the Guildhall as there were so many people. William and Kate’s car soon drove past us and pulled up just a few yards away. They paused briefly on the steps of Jimmy’s to wave to an excited crowd, before going in to visit and officially open the new facility. The advertised details of their visit suggested they might be in there for quite some time, but we were reliably informed that they would be there for fifty minutes. I figured this was just enough time to pop to one of the nearby shops that apparently had some lovely shoes in (!). I wasn’t disappointed and managed to find some gorgeous black and white spotted ones. Whilst debating whether or not to buy, I remembered that November is in fact national Dress Spotty Month (to raise awareness of the importance of spotting the symptoms of bowel cancer) and immediately decided to make a purchase.

On the way back I passed Jimmy’s Night Shelter again, and realising that it was about forty-five minutes since they went in decided it was definitely worth waiting and seeing if I could catch another glimpse of the Royal couple. As I was waiting, a group of girls came and asked me why there were so many police about and what was going on. When I told them, there were shrieks of delight and they quickly spread the word amongst the many others arriving behind them – it turned out that there was actually an Open Day at Anglia Ruskin University today. I’m not entirely sure if this was clever planning on the part of Anglia Ruskin, or merely coincidence, but it seemed to have positive effects – one of the girls I spoke to told me that she was now definitely going to come and study here (I probably should have mentioned that even though William and Kate are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a visit from them is not exactly a regular occurrence…).

William and Kate soon came out of Jimmy’s and we all excitedly waved them on their way to their next engagement. Some of my friends got to see them while they had been on their walkabout in the Market Square earlier in the day and one friend, Emma, and her son spoke to Kate – who held her little boys hand and asked if he was enjoying his biscuit. She took a brilliant photograph of Kate (see above).

Although it was great to see William and Kate (twice in one day, albeit brief!) and they seemed to enjoy their visit, it’s worth remembering why they were here. Today’s visit has provided some great publicity for Jimmy’s and highlighted the important work that they do in our community. They provide people with food and shelter – especially important in this cold and wintery weather – as well as lots of other resources to help people get back on their feet. Not wishing to end this piece on a sombre note, but it’s quite unnerving to think that most people are only two pay cheques away from needing the services of somewhere like Jimmy’s.

Felt frenzy!

I have always enjoyed making my own crafts, though finding the time isn’t easy. But I’ve been particularly inspired this week after reading a number of craft related blogs – thanks to @claireabellemks for tweeting about her creations and finds.

My creativity finally reached fever pitch on Thursday evening when I sat down to watch Kirstie’s Vintage Home -Kirstie was making a fantastic print duck-print window blind (I have a plain white roman blind that I’m looking to revamp, so I might just have a go at this another time…) and I knew I had to create something right there and then. So I reached for my box of craft goodies – full of bits of felt, material and other bits and bobs – and very quickly decided that I was going to make some Christmas decorations.

My snowflake design needs a bit more work, but I am particularly pleased with the penguin. There’s something very wintery about penguins (even though they don’t all live in snowy conditions) and along with cats they are my favourite creatures. I will be turning my decorations into christmas bunting over the coming days and of course adding some more designs into the mix. Admittedly this does feel a little strange, as it’s still November and I have never (ever) been this organised for Christmas before, but it certainly feels good to do something that’s creative and can be enjoyed by a few people. I’ve already had a friend ask me to make some decorations for her too, so these might just be the first of quite a few…!

Art and soul of Mill Road

When I first heard about a new local art project, Show Me Your Art, last week I was very excited indeed – for three reasons. Firstly, the project sounds like a fantastic idea as it will give art a rightful place in the middle of our community. Secondly, the project is being organised by Cambridge resident and market trader Frank Rowsell – I know Frank and I think he could be just the man for the job; and thirdly it really inspired me to get creative – I enjoy painting and creating various crafts, but have often thought ‘what’s the point?’ because I just don’t have the space or platform to show my creations to the world.

Show Me Your ArtFrank believes that artists should have their talent recognised and he wants to involve the community, including schools, in his project ‘Show Me Your Art’. The project aims to bring art into the local community by creating a gallery and exhibition space on Mill Road, as well as an interactive website for artists to display and talk about their work and share ideas. Frank hopes to do this by taking over the former Misfits site in Romsey and is also working on creating the website – www.showmeyourart.com (which should be fully up and running in about three weeks time).

Show Me Your Art will be great for full time artists who want to display their work, but it will also provide a very welcome platform to those who are artists on a part time basis – for example, many artists and creative people often work in other jobs until such time as others start to notice their work and they can earn a decent – and often very well deserved – living from their art; and without space to exhibit how will they get noticed in the first place…?

The former Misfits shop has sat empty for some months now, but if the project gets the go-ahead to take over the site then this would see the Romsey side of the railway bridge, and Mill Road itself, given a new lease of life. The idea is already creating quite a buzz and as Frank himself says:

“I’ve already spoken to a lot of Cambridge artists and everyone seems really excited. Now we just need the support and sponsorship to make it work”.

If you’re an artist interested in exhibiting, or a potential funder/sponsor, or if you just want to find out a bit more about the project then do call Frank on (07815) 710180 or email him: frank@showmeyourart.com – he’ll be happy to hear from you.

A project like this can only be of benefit to the area and will encourage people in the community to work together, help give budding artists a step up the ladder and ultimately give us some lovely arty creations to look at and admire. In fact, the possibilities are endless! Now, where did I put that paintbrush…?