Monday, 9 July 2012

Soap, boats and eggs...

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I hope you all had a lovely weekend. It rained here...again... I'm gradually coming to the realisation that I should probably give up hoping for a summer. The long-term weather forecast is for continued showers and cooler weather for at least the next four weeks (and that includes a prediction for some pretty atrocious weather for the first week of the Olympics). So whilst I feel for all of those people in the parts of the US that have been experiencing extreme heat and power failures, I would at least like an opportunity to feel some warmth!
Despite the weather, my friend C and I had a busy day on Saturday. She had organised the first part of the day, and I had been in charge of the second half. In the morning, after managing to get ourselves lost once in the myriad of streets tucked behind London Bridge Station, we attended a cold-process soap making workshop. C had seen the workshop advertised on groupon and thought it would be something we would both like. After brushing off some basic rudimentary chemistry, we had a very interesting and enjoyable morning (if only my chemistry teachers in high school had told us that chemistry would come in useful for lovely things like soap-making I'm sure I would have made more attention at the time!).
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It turns out that cold-process soap making is a little like baking a cake (only with oils and caustic soda/lye). You follow a recipe to make up the basic mixture - and then all the fun begins in terms of adding all of the extras such as scent, texture, colours etc. And at that point, one's creativity is only limited by one's imagination.
We were able to bring home the two little cakes of soap we made (one is green tea and lemongrass, the other is honey and oatmeal). Now they need to cure for a month before they are ready to use. C and I are already planning a production workshop in her kitchen for one weekend in September as a way of getting ahead on our Christmas gift planning - I'm already planning home-made soap as my contribution to the hand-made Christmas gifts/decorations that my old school friends and I exchange each year.
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After we finished the workshop, we walked back to London Bridge Station, and then hopped on a train to Greenwich. It was the first time I had been there (which is shameful when you think I have lived in London for over 6 years). We had a brief wander through the market, and then headed to the National Maritime Museum. First stop was a lovely lunch in the 16" West Brassiere, and then we had tickets for the Royal River exhibition.
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I'd seen this exhibition advertised a few months ago and thought it would be fantastic - we weren't disappointed. In fact it was the painting by Canaletto above that inspired the Queen's Diamond Jubilee River Pageant that was held last month. The exhibition was exceptionally well curated with a mixture of objects and artwork, and covered the history of the Thames over a period of 500 years. From royal barges, to Thames Watermen, from the first bridge to the Lord's Mayor procession, and all of the royal palaces that used the river from Hampton Court to Greenwich, it was a fascinating insight into the role that the Thames played in the establishment of the city that London is today. If you are in the UK and anywhere near London, then I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit.
I'm definitely planning a trip back to Greenwich (post-Olympics when all of the temporary grandstand seating that has been erected for the equestrian events has been dismantled). It is a lovely part of London, and the National Maritime Museum, Queen's House, the Royal Observatory and Royal Naval College are beautiful - well worth a return trip.

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Sunday morning I awoke to rain...again...But that made it the perfect opportunity to make my way to Notting Hill for brunch with my old flat-mate at Granger and Co. Nothing like a plate of the best scrambled eggs in London to start off a leisurely Sunday morning...

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