23 June 2010

Cheap days out: A quest!

Yesterday was such a beautiful sunny and warm day that we headed out to Newcastle's Quayside on a quest. Our mission? To (a) photograph six things and (b) find some ice cream. Both admirable, I'm sure you'll agree. And cheap - our total spend for the afternoon came to £1.60 for an ice cream.

The quest turned out to be a great way of going for a walk - it made us stop and look at things really closely, rather than just hurrying from a to b. And it was a chance for M to play about with her tiny camera, which she loves. The quayside is also a tip top place for scooting.

Anyway, our list. We needed to find:

Boats (we parked down near the Free Trade, and found fishing boats and a naval ship)

Lavender plants (M's suggestion)

Bridges (here's part of the Millennium Bridge)

A seagull (there were lots of them, roosting under the Tyne bridge)

A castle and a moat (so we wound our way up to Newcastle's castle, photographing castles on bins, embossed in walls, and set into the pavement, before finding the real thing). I would upload a photo, but the castles are all on M's camera rather than mine.

There was lots of scooter action, and a particularly good chocolate ice cream at Risis Ices. We may be repeating our day out again soon...

21 June 2010

In which we take the library cake to the library...

It seemed a fitting end...and it was lovely to see it amongst all the books!

20 June 2010

In which we unveil our library cake to the world...

Ta da!! Here's the cake in all its glory:

Part 7, Sunday lunchtime

Our flashmob picnic took place in Saltwell Park, so the heavies were assembled to move the cake.

It was gingerly placed in the boot of Kate and Adam's car.

Part 8, Sunday afternoon, Saltwell Park

Cakebook picnic!

We all had our photos taken with the finished cake, seen here on a trolley before its final move into place on the grand Cakebook map.

Putting our library onto the giant map of Newcastle and Gateshead wasn't an easy task. The river was made out of icing, and there were lots of sweetie street lights, bourbon biscuit roads and marzipan cars, not to mention the other buildings, to avoid. Luckily, our removal team had had lots of practice by this point.

Finally, it was there!

As the map slowly filled up with buildings, we got to see the Get Carter car park made from bourbon biscuits, a beautifully iced high level bridge, the Earl Grey monument, and a stunning St James' Park, complete with marzipan crowd.

Several of the cakes suffered in the heat (the Theatre Royal and the Byker Wall had a bit of a collapse), but the whole thing looked absolutely amazing.

19 June 2010

In which we build Gateshead Central Library out of cake...


It seemed like a good idea, way back in about March when the EAT festival announced that they were looking for people to build Newcastle and Gateshead landmarks out of cake. My friend Kate (who has a collection of cake tins to rival Fenwicks) agreed to help. The kids (M, P and J) will enjoy doing that, we thought.

Part 1

First, you'll need to make 14 birthday cakes. That's right, 14. Obviously not all at once, unless you have a *very* large oven.

We used Nigella's buttermilk birthday cake recipe, and managed to get through 42 eggs, 3.5 kg flour, 2.8kg sugar and rather a lot of butter/marg. And a lot of small people licked a lot of bowls clean.

Thankfully, the cake (a) holds together fantastically and (b) freezes really well.

Part 2

For this bit, you'll need a nice husband who happens to like architecture. He spent a while on Google Earth, took lots of photos of the library, and planned out what we needed to do.

He even built the library out of boxes for us.

Part 3: Saturday pm

We defrosted the cakes, Kate and Adam lent us their dining room, and we got to work. First of all, it was foil time.

Then, Rob cut the cake to size, to match his diagrams, and we glued it onto the foil with melted apricot jam. Sticky, but good.

A couple of hours later, most of the cake was attached.

Now for the tricky bits - porticos, lintels and Tunnocks tea cakes.

Part 4, Saturday teatime

Adam, who had done a sterling job amusing the kids while we played around with cake, went off to BBQ some tea. We attempted to stop eating the offcuts of cake.

And then we started work on the icing. It was ready roll fondant icing, which Kate coloured in three batches: brick red, stone and grey for the roof.

Then, it was time for a BBQ, and, very importantly, a glass or two of cold rose from the fridge (which may explain my slightly wonky icing placement later on).

Part 5, Saturday evening

The icing was quite tricky to get onto the cake, especially as we made the first few slabs quite thin as we were worried we wouldn't have enough. We put brick red went round the sides, grey on the roof, and stone on the porticos and embellishments.

Here's M and P spreading more jam to stick everything together.

And here's us, attempting not to swear as the fondant icing tears or sticks to the table for the 95th time:

Part 6, Decorating

Rob and the kids made windows out of rice paper, and stuck them on with jam. They also made balustrades from curly wurlys, pillars out of cafe curls, and drainpipes out of matchmakers. There was much tasting of the spares.

Then, it was time for the scaffolding...matchmakers and ice cream wafers. And a rather lethal gas lighter, which set light to the matchmakers.

By this point, it was 10pm, and well past everyone's bedtime. But we'd finished!!

Final photos tomorrow, at the grand unveiling in Saltwell Park. Wooooooo!

05 June 2010

Weddings are such fun

especially the disco bit in the evening...