An evening with Mary Berry at Birmingham Town Hall

Mary Berry is the grand dame of British cookery. The star of the Great British Bake Off, and a face in British television cookery since the 1970s, she is a real icon, has loved for her fashion sense as she is for her slightly naughty personality (soggy bottoms anyone!). Last Thursday a packed Birmingham Town Hall sat enthralled as Mary talked all things cooking and family in her own inimitable way. Here are some of the highlights of a fascinating evening with the woman rightly described as ‘one of the most important voices in food in this century and the last century.’

On the National Television Awards

I didn’t think I was going to win, I went to see all the cast of ‘Call the Midwife’. I didn’t think I would win best judge, Len Goodman was retiring and there was Simon Cowell who was bound to win, so I didn’t do a speech. I hadn’t even worked out how to get on the stage. But I was very honoured because it’s the viewers who vote, not a team.

School Days

At school I went to the back of the class so I wouldn’t be asked any questions. My best subject was domestic science or break.

Ski Days

I went to be a chalet girl in Gstaad.  We invited guests over from the UK and charged them £22 a fortnight, and we did all the cooking and skied all day.

Pigs!

I used to smuggle piglets into my bed. My dad loved animals far more than us children. I always loved the runt of the letter. I used to nip in and fetch them, wrap them in a towel and take them to bed. There was nothing nicer to take to bed.

1960s

I worked for the Ideal Home Magazine. There were only two pages of colour in magazines in those days, and the recipes were very classic. I was one of the first people to go to celebrities to get their recipes. Mary Quant was one of the first, she did a sausage risotto. She got a local restaurant to make her recipe, but she dressed the room so beautifully – she was a designer not a cook. But the recipe was delicious.

Early Television

I wrote a book on freezing for M&S at the time when people were just starting to freeze things at home. It was picked up by producers looking for a cooking segment for a Judith Chalmers  programme. I was asked if I would be interested in television and I jumped at it. They created me a kitchen in the studio from scratch – non of the cupboards opened and the sink was actually from a hose and a bucket – but it was really good fun.

Bake Off

‘There’s going to be a new TV series about cakes and baking – would you like to be considered as a judge?’ Liked to, I’d love to. I got the job but then they said you’ll also be doing bread. Now, I wasn’t very good at bread so they brought in four bread experts and asked who I would like to work with. I chose Paul Hollywood and we has seven fabulous years together, such terrific fun. I love that the format got Britain baking, particularly children. I always had a hot water bottle under my coat on Bake Off. A hot water bottle is such an old fashioned thing isn’t it.

Bake off Mantra

My Mantra is to get people to enjoy baking, to always find something good about the creation. So even if it sinks or falls apart you need to say something nice, like that it has good flavours.

Pizza!

I’ve never had a pizza delivered, and this is thought to be rather odd, but I’ve just never got around to it.

Herbs

I love growing herbs, everybody can do it whether you have a big garden and a window box. When I started cooking it was all dried herbs, now you can get so many fresh and they add so much flavour to cooking.

Finally…

I like to do a recipe, do a few things with it and suggest a few different ingredients you could use, and then suggest what to do with the leftovers.

Selfie with my Sister in Law

 

 

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Twitter Party

On Thursday UKMumsTV and a host of bloggers hosted a very special party on Twitter to celebrate the launch of the DVD version of ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen.  The party was actually taking place simultaneously with parties that were also taking place in bloggers homes, with special guests treated to party treats, games and goodie bags. I hosted a special tea party of my own for Joe and my niece Renee, with Uncle Ben and Auntie Nat also making their way from Stoke to take part. It was a lovely evening, and the centrepiece was the showing of the fabulous #Bearhunt movie, which includes characters voiced by TV favourites Olivia Coleman, Pam Ferris and Mark Williams, as well as a very special guest appearance by Michael Rosen himself.

Our party experience was wonderful, we had party snacks on the table, but, to be honest, the children were far more interested in the activities that had been organised with the party kit we had been sent. We started with some simple colouring in as we had extra sheets, and also made some bear ears, although, as the pictures show, there was some slight confusion as to how to actually wear them.

Definitely the most enjoyable part of the party was making bear biscuits using Digestives, Chocolate buttons and flavoured icing. Lots of the buttons never made it onto the biscuits, but it was a lot of fun and the kids were really proud of their finished creations.

Sharing their prize for best biscuits

A great iconic party game is ‘Pin the Tail on the donkey’. We played a variation on this, pin the tail on the bear, using a scarf and some furry pom poms. This was great fun, although the end results were not entirely successful…

We finished with some Plasticine fun, the idea was to create a bear, or maybe one of the other characters from the film, but the kids just had fun creating party and picnic food that would be perfect to take on a bear hunt.

We had a really lovely time and would definitely recommend the film to anyone as it is so lovely and family friendly, a really charming story with great heart.

You can download the film here.

 

 

Stylish Television – Father Brown

Working from home can often mean you develop some guilty pleasures when it comes to your television viewing habits. My current guilty pleasure is Father Brown, starring the wonderful Mark Williams as GK Chesterton’s crime solving vicar. The current series is the fifth for the unlikely sleuth, who has solved a whole host of crimes with the help of his house keeper Mrs McCarthy and his friends Lady Felicia and her niece Bunty. It is a gentle, funny and totally watchable series that I watch whilst eating lunch, all the time trying to solve the crime too.

Father Brown is set in the 1950s, and the lure of the beautiful period costume is definitely something that keeps me returning to watch. Lady Felicia, played by Nancy Carroll is a Grace Kelly style elegant blonde, and the Grace Kelly influence also stretches to her wardrobe which is full of beautiful dresses with full or pencil skirts, short fur jackets, pill box hats and 1950s evening wear. I particularly love this decade when it comes to style, and Lady Felicia frankly has a wardrobe you could easily fall into and never come out again – it is that good.

Lady Felicia Style

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In the latest series, Lady Felicia’s niece Bunty has joined the action. Played by Emer Kelly, she has a style all of her own, a younger spin on the 1950s looks that include tweed style jackets, pedal pushers and neck scarves worn at jaunty angles for a cute, youthful look. Emer’s style is one part Marilyn Monroe, mixed with two parts Debby Reynolds, and it works so, so well.

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Programme Name: Father Brown - TX: n/a - Episode: The Theatre of the Invisible (No. 12 - The Theatre of the Invisible) - Picture Shows: Bunty (EMER KENNY) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Gary Moyes

You can get the 1950s style from a range of High Street outlets. Chi Chi London is a great place to look for the 1950s, full skirted look, whilst Phase Eight is the perfect destination for the more fitted wiggle dresses. Coast

The 1950s look

Chi Chi Amya Dress £59.99 Click to visit Chi Chi London

Chi Chi Amya Dress £59.99 Click to visit Chi Chi London

Chi Chi Megan Dress £59.99 Click to visit Chi Chi London

Chi Chi Megan Dress £59.99 Click to visit Chi Chi London

Chi Chi Candice Dress £71.99 Click to visit Chi Chi London

Chi Chi Candice Dress £71.99 Click to visit Chi Chi London

 Tabatha Textured Dress Sale £69.00 was £89.00 Click to visit Phase Eight


Tabatha Textured Dress Sale £69.00 was £89.00 Click to visit Phase Eight

 Candice Dress £150.00 Click to visit Phase Eight


Candice Dress £150.00 Click to visit Phase Eight

 Prudence Embroidered Dress £175.00 Click to visit Phase Eight


Prudence Embroidered Dress £175.00 Click to visit Phase Eight

 Tammara Disc Fascinator £65.00 Click to visit Phase Eight


Tammara Disc Fascinator £65.00 Click to visit Phase Eight

FABIOLA BURNOUT SPOT DRESS Now£59.00 Click to visit Coast

FABIOLA BURNOUT SPOT DRESS Now £59.00 Click to visit Coast

NOELLA TOP £19.00 Click to visit Coast

NOELLA TOP £19.00 Click to visit Coast

TORTIE LACE COAT £139.00 Click to visit Coast

TORTIE LACE COAT £139.00 Click to visit Coast

SADAH FAUX FUR COVER UP Now£69.00 Click to visit Coast

SADAH FAUX FUR COVER UP Now£69.00 Click to visit Coast

GRACE KELLY SKIRT £139.00 Click to visit Coast

GRACE KELLY SKIRT £139.00 Click to visit Coast