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Thirty First October Twenty Fourteen… for you MUM x

So every year, on the 31st October people from all over the world celebrate Halloween. All the little mights, ghouls and goblins gather, the witches, devils and vampires unite and everyone lights a pumpkin and eats a few treats, well to put it bluntly thats sort of what happens…

Halloween or Hallowe’en (/ˌhæləˈwn, ˈn, ˌhɑːl/; a contraction of “All Hallows‘ Evening“), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a yearly celebration.

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Little O at 3 months, Cleaver Sq 2013

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a happy little cat and some happy looking pumpkins 2013

For me and for my family, it is just that, a celebration… My darling mum passed away on October 31st 2003 and being everything that she was and continues to be to us all, she was unbelievably inspiring and creative too. So with every year that passes, I have so much more to celebrate and so much more of a reason why. However you think of Halloween or All Hallows Eve, it’s history and story are dedicated to remembering the dead, those that have left us and for me this ignites even more passion in making each Halloween that much more special. The true meaning of Halloween and its origins have been lost over the years and of course influenced by todays society, also various religions and faiths have formed their own and slightly different traditions. What I find most poignant is that although the idea of lighting a gourd, turnip, suede or pumpkin to so many might seem ridiculous but its origin and purpose was to create a symbol of life that had passed, to welcome the spirits back, as All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day “is when our world is closer to theirs” …. It is the candle inside the pumpkin that is magical and people would display their lit pumpkins or Jack-o-Lanterns in windows and doorways to welcome back the sprits, and to me, I find that rather special…

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Pumpkins for tonights celebration!

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This year we are celebrating with all our local Kennington friends in Cleaver Square… There will be Chilli for the grown ups and sausages and buns for the kids… A gathering where the kids can eat in between their trick-or-treat rounds and haribo feasts but also a chance for us grown ups to enjoy a glass or two of wine and celebrate! Little O is dressing up as a little pumpkin and I cannot wait to see her staggering about  with her other little buddies later tonight! Being another special day on All Saints Day (my birthday!), I made cake too, I mean why not? There is always an excuse to eat cake and today an even bigger one!

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My halloween special, for you Mum (& Me!)

 

I was totally inspired by Jamie’s roasted pumpkin seeds too, so I’ve done mine with smoked paprika and chilli flakes and you will be surprised – they are damn good and very moreish! I actually carved another pumpkin just to get more seeds to roast…! See here for the recipe…

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So here’s a little Halloween wish to all of you and to everyone that has loved and lost, to all those that have left, may you enjoy the spectacular glow that tonights display of lit pumpkins, all over the world create. Happy Halloween.

 

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we are in for warm halloween this year!

 

 

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…Lamb BIRYANI…

I love Indian food, the authentic Indian food and all the spices and ways you can tenderise meat and give vegetables an exciting and vibrant twist… I especially love all the Indian breads, from roti to chapati’s to naan breads and then of course paratha’s. All of them used to bring the delicious curried meat or veg to your mouth is all part of why I love Indian food. I am no way an expert and I am no way a culinary genius. I am probably a cheat like most other Brits here in London but I will try and use as fresh as possible and from scratch as often as possible. Rick Stein’s recent journey across the sub-continent of Asia exploring all the most wonderful dishes we are so familiar with but everything else we’ve never heard of and more… The BBC Two series left you wanting to not only rediscover Indian cooking but re-stock your spice cupboard and travel India for months on a taste adventure if anything! However it did and continues to inspire me to be a little more exciting when I cook.

The latest is a Lamb Biryani recipe, a mixed rice dish using spices and meat or veg and then baked in the oven… Here I used a recipe from Jamie Oliver, made using your leftover roast shoulder of lamb… Which I posted earlier here… Stein uses chicken in his recipe here which I’ll try next, he also often suggests using mutton… However, I think that another way to use up your leftovers is great, so I went with Jamie’s…The lamb is already tender and you make the stock from boiling up the bones and then a gorgeous heavenly sauce is made from ginger, chilli, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, ground cardamon, garam, mustard seeds (anything else in your curry powder) and mango chutney. Then you layer rice, spinach, lamb into your oven dish and cover with another layer of rice and is baked in the oven.

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For a dinner party, I served the Lamb Biryani with a minty cucumber Raita, warmed Chapati’s and to start some homemade Vegetable Samosa’s washed down with some Cobra beer… ! We loved it and our guests did too, definitely one we will do again. Thanks Jamie and thanks Rick for all the inspiration!

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we all need ART in our lives…

It all started with a bumpy ride called pregnancy… a few months later and a few of Caroline Flint’s NCT classes wiser, I had made lots of new friends with other mums & dads-to-be. In those early days and in the lead up to your first birth this was just pure gold – having that wonderful support was not only amazing but really strengthened you with knowledge, which is so vital as a new mum. Caroline was also just brilliant, I will never forget our very first session… She has the confidence of years and years of experience and she really sets you up, gets you to believe that childbirth doesn’t have to be painful if you don’t let it but mostly guides you and teaches you to understand you and your body… You can read more on the wonderful Caroline here.

Moving on and moving into this blurry, tiring yet incredible time that was pregnancy –  I met Chloe (& her then bump) and over the course of a few months we became really good friends… Finding someone with that same zest for life was so good for me… Someone who makes life as colourful, fun, vibrant and creative as possible was brilliant, not forgetting that Chloe and her family live up the road, was fab too. It meant that I had a partner in crime, through those early motherhood months we sleepily embarked on our new adventure, taking our bubbas to every class we could manage to get us and them up and out, but I had someone to share my confusion or worry with. Not saying every day was hard, but finding someone in exactly the same position as you meant so much.

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picassos in the park team – Laura & chloe

… A few more months and well into early motherhood later, both Chloe and I got to thinking… together after many a latte at the wonderful Sally White’s or curled up sleepily at the Durning Library with her now Little D and my Little O decided that we would like to do some creative work together. Both having artistic backgrounds and an urge to do something more we set up Picassos in the Park. Our very own and very exciting Art Course for children here in Kennington!

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Our set up for Matisse Week… taking inspiration from leaves for the children to do their own Matisse Cut-Outs.

 

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Picasso week

 

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Classroom set up for Van Gogh week

 

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A sunflower in the making

 

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Using watercolour, tissue, sand, glue and pencil

 

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This is Naima’s sunflower… Naima is 6 years old

Classes run on Saturday mornings over a four week period and take place in the annex tent round the back of the Kennington Park Café. After the success of our first course in July we are now running another course that starts this Saturday 13th September, only a few days away! Which, when looking back, I actually can’t quite believe… How did all that just happen?

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Monet week. This is Maddy’s Monet inspired piece, she is 5 years old. I especially love her water lillies.

 

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Monet inspired waterlillies

Using the Masters of Art as our basis to inspire the children and find their own inner Picasso, we have successfully brought Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh and more to the course using bright colours, an array of exciting artists materials and the fun imagination from the children and of course ideas from life all around.

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a happy georgina, age 8, with her Matisse inspired cut-out!

 

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taking inspiration from the park

For us mums it has proved to be not only popular but everything we anticipated it being and more. Holding the classes in the café has been great and we are very pleased with how the first course has been received, we are now working hard on ideas as to how we evolve the course and reach a wider audience. The children and parents alike have given only highly positive feedback and more than 50% of our students re-booked for the new course (starting 13th Sept) straight away. We are thrilled and what actually makes our Saturday’s even more special is watching the children take their very own Matisse collage or their Picasso portrait or Van Gogh sunflower away, it’s the realisation that with two minds that think alike we have managed to bring such an exciting new venture to life and have made each and everyone of these kids go away wanting more. Wanting to be more creative is just the starting point. Beautiful artwork has been created and we have had students come back. We cannot be happier with the outcome.

We would love to hear your thoughts, or if you would like more information or are interested in enrolling your child, then please get in touch by sending us an email at picassosinthepark@gmail.com.

I would like to thank Chloe (of course!) her little D, my little O for all the inspiration and to the Dads involved too, Merlin and Jon – who have both really supported us in this, and for all their help in clearing up after class too!

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The Kennington Park Café

A very special Thank You to Chris Michael at Kennington Park Café for letting us host our Art courses in the annex part and for helping us get our show on the road, not to mention the fab coffees and toasties too. Kennington Park has also recently been voted as Best Historic Park amongst 6 of the best Parks in Lambeth – read more here. The Park has also just been awarded another Green Flag – a nationally recognised standard of excellence for parks for the fourth successive year too!  We are pretty lucky here in Kennington.

Another special Thanks to all the parents and children for helping us make Picassos in the Park the success that it is!

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…It’s the MAGIC of La Forêt…

When I first visited the remarkable and stunning La Forêt for the very first time in 2009, little did I know that it would pull on my heart as much as it has. I knew pretty soon after my first encounter that I wanted to celebrate my wedding there, which we did in 2011. I also knew, deep down, that it would become a very very special place to me and my family and it will remain so, forever…

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IMG_2592We recently spent a week here with friends. We had this planned for over a year and for many of us it was a much needed break. For us, it was returning to a little part of France which we had the honour of calling home for 14 months between 2010-2011.

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It was so good to go back and especially good to bring Little O along with us. Plenty of relaxing by the pool in the glorious sunshine to eating fine dinners cooked by friends by candle light in the courtyard or terrace…


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  It was also our chance to take Little O and to show her ‘our’ special place…

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10583013_10153085487326091_2991486192315384296_o              10383632_10153085487476091_2434178770195046340_nIt wouldn’t be a week in Gascony without drinking the local Floc de Gascogne and plenty of fine wine. Local vineyards including Millet, Domaine du Joy, Pellehaut & Tariquet.  Armagnac too, of course! We visited the beautiful medieval village La Bastide d’Armagnac and took a day trip to beach at Hossegor.10577070_10153085485886091_3686805321728666075_n

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Credit to Chris Karageorgiou, who took some of the photos.