Christmas Pudding by Margaret Tempest (source)
Last Saturday the gentleman of the house and I went to the Round Hill Roastery Open Day.
Round Hill Roastery is a UK based coffee roasting company which opened this year by a young man with a love for coffee. I met Eddie, the owner, about a year ago when when it was just an idea in his head and now he has his own company and supplies several coffee shops (including Colonna and Smalls and Society Cafe in Bath)
I was really excited about going. I had been to the Opening Party where I had seen all the machinery but was was really looking forward to seeing an actual roast in action. The gentleman of the house even got to pull some of the levers.
The raw beans are rotated by a paddle in a cylindrical barrel over the gas burner so that the beans heat but do not scorch. At a certain point in the process the beans ‘crack’ (internally combust) becoming their own heat source, at this point no more flame is needed. When the roast is complete the beans are released and cooled and any beans which haven’t roasted properly are removed (this is done by eye). The roaster is maintaining a perfect temperature now and the second batch of beans are released into the roaster. Throughout the process you can see the state of the beans through a little porthole where they turn from the greenish colour through a light peanutty colour to the dark brown we recognise.
There’s a lot of wizardry and maths involved and different conditions in the process can result in different flavours. The coffee being made was a blend of Honduras (giving the base earthy nutty flavours) and El Borbollon (which gives the nutty acidity in the cup). When the second roast was released for cooling the paddle mixed and cooled the beans before they were transferred to a container. Needless to say that it smelled lovely.
The next stage is to de-stone the blend. This machine sucks up the beans from the hopper (behind) and removes the unusable (heavy) beans by weight.
As well as the demonstration I got to try some lovely espresso and ask all sorts of questions and even smell the raw beans (which smell like very dark chocolate and nutty). The process is obviously more complex than i’ve described here but I’ve learned a lot and hopefully will learn a lot more. Also as a result I have a new stash of decaff to try which i’m very excited about.
I had a really fantastic time, and I do recommend visiting on the next open day if you can. You can contact Round Hill Roastery via their website for details on email/facebook/twitter
“Christopher Robin had wheezes and sneezles, they bundled him into his bed. They gave him what goes with a cold in the nose, and some more for a cold in the head” – Sneezles from Now we are six by A A Milne (image source and full poem)
Its the time of year for sniffles and bunged sinuses and when theres so much excitement in December its not something you want to miss. I’m currently trying everything to make my head better. Here are a few tips for easing stuffy sinuses
- Steam Inhale, with either a fancy gizmo or just a bowl and a towel over your head. Drop a tiny amount of menthol crystals (chemist recommended them woh they’re potent)/olbas oil into hot water and breathe deeply.
- Soak in a nice hot steamy bubble bath with a book
- Eat a hot curry, nothing like it to get your nose running
- Do the washing up, its surprising how leaning over a hut tup of water helps (its that steam again)
- Watch a film which will make you cry, yet another good way of clearing the nose (Atonement is probably a good bet for this although Steel Magnolias was quite useful to me last week)
It has become a tradition that every year I buy myself a new pair of pyjama bottoms for December. These are ‘lounging’ pyjamas as in what to wear mooching about the house when you aren’t intending to really get properly dressed. I like to have something a little special, the first I got pink cheque with silver sparkles, then some amazing ones that pink unicorns and pink castles and pink peacocks (etc…you get the picture). Since i’m busy saving for the wedding this year I thought I wouldnt bother but then I looked at the River Island website. My rule is not to buy something unless it makes you go ‘oooooooh wow amazing’ but I was spoilt for choice.
The floral ones were in the shop and were a little thin for winter, unfortunately they didnt have the others. Although the leopard is, well leopard, and the reindeer ones are nice I am totally in love with the baroque tiger ones. I’ve never bought pyjamas online before and am a little hesitant as I usually go 2 sizes up with pyjamas but they usually have a tie waist so maybe i’ll go one up and see how I go
This summer I had been thinking of getting myself some satin pyjamas to wear around the house at weekends but had trouble finding the perfect pair so I think I’ll revisit that in spring when its not so cold but here are my top choices. The main problem was paying for nice satin ones when for only £20 you could get silk.
I love christmas wreaths but don’t really have a suitable door for hanging one however looking online these are the prettiest I have found. Last year I hung my one above the telly (sadly I have a rather old sad looking one from the 90’s, maybe one day i’ll make one)
In summer the population starts dressing in bright colours, in winter I always feel its more about the texture, Velvet, Lace, Damask, Jacquard, Satin and Sequins. The season is much darker and the evenings are longer and the night brings itself into our clothing. Baroque is an art movement which I admired since I was tiny; drama, exuberance and grandeur in art, architecture and design. If you are feeling a little opulent here are some baroque jackets
(L to R ) Purple symmetrical print boxy blazer £60 River Island , Bonded lace jacket £60 (reduced from £120) Phase Eight , Paisley peplum blazer £37 Miss Selfridge , Dandy wallpaper blazer £68 Topshop , Baroque embellished jacket £85 Miss Selfridge
Theres even something gorgeous for the gentlemen out there, if a little pricey
December is undoubtably the season for sequins, and not just a little embellishment but ALL OVER sequins. I think there’s something about the darkest time of year that makes us want to sparkle, sort of a human version of christmas lights. I saw this black gown (yes its not just a dress it’s a Gown!) in French Connection and immediately was longing for an occasion (and the cash) to wear it, im thinking some spectacular function from a spy film. They also have this sleeveless number for a more slinky appearance.
Last year on impulse I bought this green dress, I think it was the colour that enticed me. It was a little large (they only had 1 size left) but it wasn’t too bad. The dress has a very low back so you can’t wear a bra and has a tendency to slip off the shoulders (tape will be needed). I had planned to wear it to my work xmas party but I was ill and couldn’t go, so its been sitting in my wardrobe ever since. Also i’ve lost some weight so i’m really not sure what to do with it. The question is what kind of an occasion do you wear all sequins to? Admittedly you could just wear it down to the pub if you wanted to. All over sequins make quite heavy material so you must’t be going anywhere too hot, but this also means that it can help hide some of the lumps and bumps that you cant hide with thin skin tight material. I really need an occasion to wear this, maybe i’ll just make one. Anyone fancy dressing up?
Of course if you really want to wow wear red! Two fabulous examples of this are Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard in Dark Shadows
…and of course Jessica Rabbit (whom I idolised growing up)