A Pot-luck Lunch with Cambridge Eat Up!

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At the end of last summer Aoife and I, inspired by our love of sharing food (providing there’s enough to go round of course), put on a Photography Picnic in Cambridge supported by Pink Lady® Apples, the people behind the Food Photographer of the Year awards.

We invited people we knew through different means and reached out to local groups, we invited bloggers, friends, and food lovers. Everyone was keen and excited to be involved (apart from one person who sent multiple messages of hate – but you know, there’s always one!) and on a lovely sunny evening we sat down and shared photography skills, cocktails, food and fun.

It was the first time I saw Claire’s glittering trainers, and where Alex coined the term  ‘a whisper of gin’, which I may never forget. I also met a dog called Troy and an aura reading jester. That’s got to be a good sign, right?

We had to do this again. We had to start a food gang!

‘Food team assemble!’ I cried, as I held a golden breadstick to the sky, lightning struck, thunder crashed, and a new era dawned. Actually, I just went on Facebook and set up a group.

‘Cambridge Eat Up!’ was born, hatched from a cornflake cake, raised on syrup, left to run free, nurtured by good people.

Now at almost 100 members, I know I am lucky to have been able connect with such a diverse group of people. We are friends and equals. We are scientists and artists, chefs and doctors, bakers, business owners, writers, photographers, bloggers, and so many other wonderful things, and we all share a love of food.

We hang out and have dinner, swap recipes and books and things, and generally just share good stuff and support each other. It’s pretty special.

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Anyway, enough gushing about ‘team awesome’. This year we took part in the fabulous EAT Cambridge festival fringe and held our own pot-luck lunch, hosted so kindly by Pina, one of the most organised people I have ever met!

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It was a delightful day. Everyone brought along a dish or two to share and we just sat out on Pina’s (and Paulo’s!) deck, enjoying the good weather, delicious food, great hospitality and wonderful company.

We ate our way through some of the most superb food (and my custard tarts!) all made with thought and care by our fellow pot-luck lunchers. So, look away if you are even slightly hungry, because… it’s food time!

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Helen’s beautiful bread,  Gina’s rhubarb and amaretti cake with orange and rosemary syrup,  Naomi’s Crostata.

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Aoife’s broccoli and hazelnut salad, Gina’s chilli and fennel cheese crackers, Paola’s quiche, Lisa’s Cobb salad.

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Alison’s Piragi, Deepa’s Dhokla, Lyndsey’s rosemary and parmesan madeleines.

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Paola’s gluten free blueberry and cranberry cake, Jin’s soft strawberry swiss roll (with Katt’s dropped ice-cream cake in the background),  Lyndsey’s miniature melting moments, Michelle’s chocolate and quinoa bark.

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Sue’s pretty rhubarb snow, my not-so-pretty custard tarts, and a plate full of goodies, including Jin’s superb pandan and black sesame chiffon cake. Wowzers.

There was so much good food, and I was most happy to have a gingery drink to go with it. These Thor apple soft drinks are delicious. In my world all drinks should be gingery or minty, or tea’y.

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I was so busy participating in the eating (and totally excelling at it. High five, Harvey hotdog!) that I didn’t manage to get detailed photos of all the goodies – like Jess’s teeny cheese scones and tasty falafel, Michelle’s Jersey Royal and rocket salad, Ozzy’s Frikadellen, Nazima’s chickpea and potato curry, Kelly’s puff pastry rolls with spinach, feta and ricotta, her beautiful beetroot and rocket salad, or Stella’s impressive dulce de leche brownies. Mmm yum. I may have missed something else. Oh yeah, the goody bags… gulp!

Join us next time if you’d like… bring biscuits!

Go team!

Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship 2016 – MIRA (Round 3)

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When we left for MIRA, the wrong side of 6am, the sun was already out, forcing it’s way through the early morning mist and promising to make the day warm and lovely.

Personally, I’m not hugely keen on MIRA as a track, but The Bentley Drivers Club are such a lovely bunch (they really are) and they are so welcoming to us, that it balances things out for me somewhat. Plus they have a Tag Heuer touch screen timing station, or ‘log machine’ as Adam called it, and proper toilets, with glass basins and clean floors. Winning.

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After the briefing we all climbed into (and onto, for those vintage Bentley drivers!) our cars, and drove out for a convoyed sighting lap of the track, which was brilliant. Much better than walking the course (because, at least for me, I think it enables you to judge distances and track conditions much better) and I do believe it may have actually encouraged more cars to stay on the tarmac for the rest of the day!

Simon Foley had a brief moment of worry when his car decided it couldn’t make the whole lap and wafted the strong scent of fuel at him. He was quickly recovered by the marshals and in the paddock the issue was found and fixed. Job done.

I’ve been to MIRA twice before, and I still have no idea where the track goes! Sitting low in the car, driving the track, with the raised grass around me and flat landscape, I struggled to find things to familiarise myself with. You cannot use wild dandelions as reliable marker points, it seems.

The two practices weren’t too bad, first one for familiarisation, second one for trying a bit more to push myself round blind corners with confidence. Pah!

Somehow we managed an almost two hour long lunch break. The sun was bright and warm, there was a slight breeze, and I’d been well behaved and baked three dozen Portuguese custard tarts to share round. Seriously, we could have been in the Mediterranean! (Hmm, maybe I do live in a utopian bubble?!)

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After a wobbly start off the line, I managed 60.03 for my first timed run. Adam managed 58.22 with more wobbles, and a flame from the exhaust pipe. I should have just given up there and then!

I was ready to be an amazing on my second run and surprise everyone with my rad skillz. I started well and I was off to a good start, I felt, but then… what’s this? As I began to gather speed I spotted some kind of debris in front of me. Oh no! Big black boulders of doom! On the track were massive chunks of tarmac, egg-sized, and scattered across the first corner where I was still accelerating.

I slowed a little as the car went over them, I had to, it felt like it slid one way, then the other. I carried on, but it had slowed my speed into the next section of track, which happened to be a place where I could go flat out, so there was no way of gaining anything back here.

I did keep trying but I was disappointed. Xav and Simon had also been put off by the boulders. I went and reported it to the marshals. I thought about asking for a re-run for us all, but the rain had started and the opportunity had passed.

It turned out to be Pidgeon mess on the track – Andy had had an over-excited spin!

I had managed to get my time under 60, at 59.91, and only 0.19 seconds behind the next driver, but, that still put me at the bottom of my class. (Now, had I been in another class, this could have been a different story and I could have been cheering about trophies instead of whinging about being last!)

Production class definitely seems to be the most competitive, and I’m not just saying that to appease my ego!

Stuart and Mark both got 56.78, and Adam 56.79. That’s close, and kind of weird, when you think about it.

In Supersport, after both timed runs Russell and James both had exactly the same times with 55.96, but the win went to Russell as his first timed run was faster than James’.

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And our winners are… drum roll… Prince impression by Phoebe… whooping and cheering in the marque…

Production:
1st Nigel Hannam, 2nd Xavier Brooke, 3rd Phil Stratton-Lake
Production Modified:
1st Stephen Morrison, 2nd Simon Foley, 3rd Andrew Pidgeon
Supersport:
1st Russell Whitworth, 2nd James Tubby, 3rd Martin Roberts
Supersport Modified:
1st Duncan Fraser, 2nd Paul Neale

Such a good day – great people, great cars, and Simon Foley had a stash of lollipops with him. Hooray!

These Recent Things (Photography & The Fen)

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Spring has most definitely sprung and I’ve leapt into life like some kind of ‘should have been road-kill’ kangaroo on a bonza mission.

The evening before we flew out to Mumbai I gave at talk to London Independent Photography on ‘Developing Your Photographic Practice’. It was great, not only because the audience were awesome and asked so many questions that we over-ran massively, but also because the corridors, stairwells and lifts of the London Metropolitan University were full of posters with my face on and arrows pointing to the lecture room – basically, personalised directions!

Mumbai was wonderful. I wrote a few things about staying at The Taj Mahal Palace,  and the amazing Street Food Tour we went on, and then I jumbled everything together to share a few of my favourite things, in a slide-show side-show kind of way! 

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Back from Mumbai, we headed down to the Irish Embassy to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Books Ireland, the grown up business-baby of my sweet friend Aoife’s lovely parents. We ogled the cars of Belgravia then had Guinness and macarons, and canapés of proper Irish black pudding under the golden ceiling of an opulent glowing room full of good people.

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The evening was thoroughly enjoyable, but then we were hit by the lingering memories of India, (or, the Mumbai Bumbyes as it became known) and found ourselves obsessing over our own personal toilets.

For the rest of the week the only thing we left the house for was to sign our wills. (Totally un-bumbye related – it wasn’t that bad!) We wanted to make sure that if anything happens to either of us, the other would be protected. It makes sense. Also I want to ensure that if I die there’s no fighting over my taxidermy crow and it will go straight to my friend Rob. He thinks he might die first, so he’s going to leave me a piñata, made from his neighbours dog.

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At home I’ve been appreciating the garden, the spring growth, the little Robin hoping around on the grass, and the wonky wood pigeon limping his way around the lawn. I also tried to shoot a rat. Fen life.

The chicken hierarchical system has changed, there’s been a restructure. Dear ginger Belinda has died – we don’t know why. We found her on the lawn, eyes closed, her lovely big body slumped down in the grass.

Patty Slipper used to sleep under ginger Belinda every night, keeping warm and safe, and hidden. Now she’s exposed and has been noticed by Sasha. Every time Patty tried to get in the house, Sasha would chase her off. Then Patty started trying to sleep on a piece of wood outside, and that wasn’t ideal. When it got dark, Adam or I would pick her up and pop her in the chicken house, but in the morning Sasha would bully her even more. Then we thought, ‘Hey! What if Sasha thinks there’s some kind of chicken shamanism going on and that Patty Slipper is a shape shifter?!’ So we decided, after Sasha pecked both of Patty’s eyelids, it was safer to keep them separate at night. Patty Slipper now sleeps in our back hall. She’s much happier. She skips out of the back door in the morning and doesn’t seem as afraid. She’s not scared of MoJo at all (although he is a bit unsure about her) and she’s not so scared of me either!

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I had an amazing few days in Derby, speaking at the National Photography Symposium, then giving portfolio reviews and the Shutter Hub Award at FORMAT International Photography Festival.  I came away feeling inspired, happy, and slightly embarrassed – you know me! I met some wonderful people and I was genuinely thrilled to have been able to be part of such great events. If you’re thinking about going to FORMAT next year, do it!

I also hosted a session at Beach Blanket Babylon with The Bloggers Hangout on the importance of paying photographers. I’m not sure if anyone was listening though!

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In Shutter Hub land we’ve got masses of wonderful things coming up. I hope you’ll come along, get involved, tell your friends, hang out with us…

As part of our Shutter Hub OPEN 2016 in Cambridge this year there will be: photography exhibitions across three venues, a portfolio review with some superb industry professionals (check them out!), a free meet up event for chats and fun and idea sharing, a workshop with Sara Tasker of Me & Orla, and an array of fabulous talks – Justin Carey on night photography, Kate O’Neill & Jackie King on making it work in the photographic industry, Mariah Wilde on ‘making money from your art, the charity Photovoice on their work and how you can get involved and more. I don’t know how we do it!

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I’ve received some lovely letters lately (which makes me realise I need to send more post) and had some fun times with a lot of good people. In general I feel like I’ve been shown a lot of positivity lately, and for that I am grateful. Thank you! Oh, there was that angry man that I encountered in the pit lane at Hethel on Sunday, but that turned out fine in the end and I realised later, I should have just squirted my windscreen washers at him to dampen his rage – next time!

Funny thing. Adam went to get some stuff from the car on Saturday morning and found a whole family in fancy hats having their photograph taken, (with golden reflectors and everything) in front of our twisted willow (or, as I like to call it ‘the dead witches tree’). That seemed a bit random, but it was topped this morning by a man with a bucket picking dandelions for his canaries.

Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship 2016 – Hethel (Round 2)

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It had been six weeks since our last sprint and it seemed like forever. I had a couple of weeks without being able to drive anywhere, being chauffeured to work by Adam and wrangling crutches like a weak armed monkey.

The physiotherapist had been adamant it was too early for me to return to driving, but listening to him would have been boring. Then there was the guy in the supermarket who randomly started telling me about the dangers of motor-racing and how he’d seen a lot of old footage of cars launching into the crowds and decapitating everyone. Listening to him was not boring, but it was a bit weird.

I wasn’t expecting to have a good day, or to do well. After Snetterton I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to sprint anymore.

We released the chickens into the garden and headed off into the wilds of Norfolk. I followed Adam down the road in the Elise, using the journey to get used to driving the car again. He hit a pigeon with a smash, sending a large feathery fountain over the car and I couldn’t tell if I should take this as a good or bad omen.

The sun was shining over lovely Hethel. I felt ready to see what would happen when I got out onto the track of awesomeness.

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We stood in the pit lane, second drivers, waiting for our turn, watching over the track as the cars rushed past. An orange single-seater came to a halt on the other side of the track, perfectly placed in front of a marshal, flames licking from the engine. The driver leapt from the cockpit and we looked on in amazement. ‘Fire!’ shouted Xav, running to grab an extinguisher and offering to help. The marshal on our side of the track said that he couldn’t let Xav go onto the live track, which is totally fair and safe, but we felt for the driver as he watched the marshal meander over to him and struggle to get the fire extinguisher working as the car burnt on for just a few more seconds. Eventually, they put it out.

Adam was queueing up, second from the start line at this point, so I thought, to save him worrying about what might be happening the other side of the pit wall, I’d go and let him know. Turns out, he was asleep. Asleep!

Once the track was clear, and Adam had woken up and taken his practice, it was my turn. As I drove along the pit lane I stopped and asked if they wanted to send the car behind me, Xav, out in front of me, because he is a much faster driver. I was worried he’d catch me up and I’d ruin his practice. I was told to let the guys on the start line know, and they’d leave a bit of extra space.

I really did try to tell them when I got there, but I was met by rage! I stopped about two metres from the line, to speak to the man there, but he was furious, he wanted me to get to the line. I wanted to speak to him – at least, I thought I did! He told me he didn’t have time for my questions, that I was ruining the day, that I’d ruined the racing for everyone! I can’t remember everything else he said because I was just so shocked, but it did involve a lot of aggressive shouting on his part, and a bit of frustrated crying on mine.

I went off the line, tears bulging on the edge of my eyelashes, vision blurred, disappointed that I’d let such a ridiculous man upset me. My time was actually okay, considering. Phoebe said that I needed to find more anger for more speed. I went and found Martin and told him what had happened. Everyone took it seriously, which was good. Nobody thought I was a silly crying girl, which was good. The angry little man had run away, which was good.

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Organisational problems (that were nothing to do with me, I hasten to add!), and the fact that it was already lunchtime and they’d only just got all 100 cars out, meant that we had to agree to not to take our second practice and to have just two timed runs, otherwise the entire day would not count towards our championships.

Luckily Xav’s daughter had sent him well prepared with an excellent array of cakes, so the disappointment was appeased, for me, by a very good and sticky cornflake cake.

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The time for the timed runs came round and I headed off the line with gusto. 1st gear, 2nd gear, 5th gear… balls! Then I got cramp in my foot. The involuntary muscle spasm dispersed and I carried on, reaching the second chicane, braking too late and trying to use the power of wang to get me round the corner. The car spun to the left, then snapped back to the right. I was facing the wrong way on the track, ‘Bloody hell Karen!’ I said as I turned it around and carried on. ‘What next?’

Well, next, I caught up with the car in front of me! I know, so wrong, but so funny! I sat behind him, trying not to be pushy, but willing him to go faster. I think I might have helped him to get his fastest time of the day. Hooray for teamwork!

I pulled into the pit lane and was sent straight up to the start line for a re-run. ‘Don’t worry Karen,’ I was told, ‘The track is completely clear, you’ll be the only car out there, you’ve got nothing to worry about.’ The lights changed to green and I floored the throttle, then I spotted the red flags. Hang on a minute! I couldn’t work out what was going on, but I brought the car back in, again. Turns out it wasn’t a clear track after all, might have been a bunch of men and a transit van out there, you know!

Re-run number two went without any problems, aside from the slipping clutch because the car was too hot. My time was 147.97 and I was alright with that.

It was all kind of fun. A bit ridiculous, but funny.

My second run was good. I felt happy with my driving and the car. My time was 145.26 and this put me in 6th position, out of 12. Yes, I’m pretty chuffed with that!

Just for comparison, and so I can show that I really have improved and the competition really has got tougher – this time last year my best time was 157.12, and if I could time travel back a year with this new result I would have achieved 2nd place!

What started off as a bad day, and was actually quite bizarre, turned into a good day. Sometimes when you expect nothing you are rewarded with something.

Anyway, less philosophising, and more appreciating how well everyone did…

Production:
1st Nigel Hannam, 2nd Xavier Brooke, 3rd Adam Ruck
Production Modified:
1st Martin Scarfe, 2nd Simon Foley, 3rd Andrew Pidgeon
Supersport:
1st Andy Hughes, 2nd Martin Roberts, 3rd James Tubby
Supersport Modified:
1st Duncan Fraser, 2nd Jason Weatherall, 3rd Nick Emery

A round of applause for you all!

Mumbai – A Few of My Favourite Things

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Five nights in Mumbai is not enough, but it was good, very good. We didn’t do big fancy tourist things, I was only just off crutches, (if my physiotherapist asks, I was on them all the time!) and it was hot, heatwave hot. We’d not planned ahead, and we just went with the flow, which was good enough for us!

I thought it would be fun to share my ‘best bits’ of Mumbai with you, like an old school holiday-snap slide show, but hopefully you’ll still be awake by the end of it.

I’m burning a joss stick, and I’ve made you some holiday themed drinks and snacks, there’s some supermarket onion bhajis that don’t look like something you should eat, and a bowl of Bombay mix that you suspect I made from carpet sweepings. The lights are low, and the sound of Ravi Shankar’s sitar playing is drifting from the hifi. I’m nodding my head side to side with attempted Indian style and a smile as I tell you, ‘I want to take you on a journey!’  You are sitting patiently, but perhaps not comfortably, wondering if I’ve laced your drink with opium, as we begin…

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Street food tour. We took the train to Chowpatty Beach and then went on an incredible edible journey into the depths of the city. It was totally AWESOME… even if we did end up with the Mumbai bum-byes for the next two weeks! You can read my full blown low down here (- on the food, not the aftermath!)

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Street stalls. In between the pashminas and the shiny things, were little pop-up stalls selling all kinds of food and drink. The sugarcane-juice stalls were fascinating – long canes were striped and fed through mechancial contraptions, and the extract mixed refreshingly with ginger and lime.

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These shoes. We were walking up to Kala Ghoda when we heard the sound of a squeaky dog toy coming from a small child. Once we realised it was his shoes, I spent the rest of my days keeping an eye out for my own pair, but alas, I was out of luck. I did buy three giant balloons for 50 rupees though, which is totally over priced, but, seriously, how can you put a price on giant balloons?

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Colaba Causeway. Known as Mumbai’s Oxford Street, it was busy and every other person seemed to want to sell me a pashmina. We were talking to a chap in one of the shops and, after we declined to view his vast pashmina selection he told us that Britain was poor now, China has the money, and India is coming up. We talked about the cost of living in the city – money and health, the smoggy skies, the future of things. I told him that global warming was caused solely by the over production of pashminas.

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Looking up (and down). I was overjoyed, this is true, to find a comb, (COMB!) on Veer Nariman Road. I have collected pictures of the combs I find since about 2006, it is the most exciting collection and enthrals many. I really was very pleased to be able to add to it in Mumbai. Then a rat rushed across the pavement, so busy looking at us that it ran straight into a metal table leg! It was a fabulous few minutes.

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Crows. Whilst green parakeets flew overhead, the Indian house crows, with their grey necks and their sleek black feathers, lurked at eye level. I find crows quite fascinating, that’s why I’ve got a stuffed one in my hallway.

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Dinner at Gaylord. Our first attempt of attending the street food tour was foiled by a national holiday. We decided to share a meal with the other wannabe tourers, Jesse and Liam. Liam led the way into the street and said, “Take your pick!” So I chose Gaylord, and I chose well!

I drank green apple iced tea, ate the delicious Gaylord speciality of Murgh Makhani, (butter chicken) and was most content.

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People. Just, people.

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Muckhwas. It means ‘mouth smell’. Yes, I am easy to please. We had little sachets of this on the plane, and it was on almost every restaurant table. Fennel and sesame seeds with anise and colourful minty sugary bits. Like a fancy edible confetti.

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Sleeping dogs (and cats). They were just lying around, smiling. People were kind to them. I wanted to be kind to them too, but I knew I wasn’t allowed to touch any of the animals, (after that time I got bitten by a bat in the dining room and the ‘We think you’ve got rabies’ debacle that followed). I was very restrained, just smiling intensely at them all, trying to ooze animal appreciation through the ether.

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Lunch at Masala Kraft. We managed to get the VIP treatment before the real Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at the Taj Mahal Palace. Four hours of incredible Indian food, cooked right in front of our eyes by our own dedicated chef. I’ve written about the experience in full detail (and plenty of photos!) over on the Glorious Foods website. It was delicious.

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Hotel room picnics. I know, it’s a bit lame to eat in your room when you’ve got such an amazing city to explore, but the Taj Mahal Palace had ten restaurants for us to choose from, including The Patisserie, a luxury destination in itself, apparently.

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Breakfast in the Sea Lounge. Is it wrong for me to include the hotel breakfast? Probably, but I’m in charge here! I love a hotel breakfast, mostly for the opportunity to observe other people’s choices, but also because I am a pastry fiend. Sitting in the Sea Lounge of the Taj Mahal Palace, overlooking the Gateway of India and the Arabian Sea, with the sun waking me gently, drinking good tea and marvelling at the pastry variety on my plate – a good place to be!

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Gateway of India. Looking down on the Gateway from 20th floor of the Palace Tower is quite a special thing. Sitting on the edge of Mumbai Harbour, a mighty 85 feet high, it was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. I like it most because of the story – it wasn’t built until several years later, so they got to see a papier mache version instead – which must have been pretty incredible!

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The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. An incredible building with so much history, marble, symmetry and style. The abundant displays of flowers were incredible, and the smell, so sweet (sometimes intoxicating). This is a luxury hotel where the staff’s motto is ‘Guest is God’ and you can have anything you want – if you are rich enough. It was an amazing place to stay, and a wonderful experience, (see more here) but if you only visited The Taj you would never get a feel of the vibrant, real and fabulous Mumbai. 

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Special tortoise of luck and prosperity.  Along with all the restaurants in the hotel, there were also several shops – Louis Vuitton, Dior, Rolex, and a few Indian gift boutiques. We could have had the only rose quartz lucky tortoise in the whole of India for just £380. Fabulous and unique. She’s like the Mr Blobby of the carved stone lady-tortoise world. Apparently if we’d have brought her home and faced her towards the door, she would have given wealth to anyone who visited. I reckon she could have dealt with the Jehovah’s witnesses too.

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The Royal visit. We knew something was going on when we saw a man spend his whole day outside in a small courtyard killing insects with one of those electrified tennis-rackets. ‘You must feel very privileged to be staying here when we have VIP’s in!’ we were told by the concierge.

The red carpet was rolled out and a crowd gathered to watch their arrival. We gathered to watch the crowd. I did catch a glimpse of the top of Prince William’s head. Job  done.

Later that evening several thousands of people lined the streets outside the hotel, as Rolls Royces and Bentleys rolled up and Bollywood stars and dignitaries poured out. We decided to join the hot crowd, leaving the excellent viewpoint and cool marble of the hotel, to stand for a few minutes and look on.

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Marine Plaza Hotel. My brother’s colleague, Laxman, recommended we have the buffet dinner here, he said it was beautiful and scenic, and a must in his view. He emphasised the word ‘must’ with capitals, so that sold it to us immediately.

The buffet was a strange mix of dishes, enjoyable, and complimented  by the 1980’s art deco theme and window view of promenading Range Rovers and Porsches. After dinner we drank masala chai whilst listening to the lift-music version of the theme tune from Titanic and watched fireworks going off across the bay.

After dinner we rode the lifts a few times, we didn’t even need to use the lifts, but they were magnificent to behold and too good to be missed.

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Marine Parade. Outside the Marine Plaza hundreds of people sat, enjoying the slight breeze coming off the bay. I kind of felt that this guy was channelling the ‘draw me like one of your french girls’ vibe, in a totally Titanic style, but a quick and sneaky photo had to suffice.

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Crawford Market. There was so much to see, and we missed a lot of it, but visiting a proper local market was just wonderful. The stalls and spices, the people rushing round, the fresh fruits,  the  worn Victorian architecture, and weirdly, the pet stall. The boy above sent his friend to ask me if I would take his photograph, he was very happy, sat in front of the most wonderful fountain (designed by Rudyard Kipling’s father) that has been long neglected, slightly butchered, painted quite garishly and used to store random stuff.

On the pet stall they were keen to tell me that the hamsters were asleep, not dead. I had no idea people kept hamsters and guinea pigs in India. There were also fancy pigeons, tropical fish, and squidgy little labrador puppies. The signs said ‘no returns’.

We didn’t do masses of shopping, just a lot of looking, but we did pick up teas, incense and a big spangly horse thing.

I Dont Like Peas Karen Harvey Mumbai 0279Chowpatty beach. In the distance, outlined against the glare of the lowering sun, you can see some of the most expensive properties in Mumbai. The richest man in India’s house (with it’s  300 maids, 6 residents, and 3 helipads) is just out of shot on the right. On the beach anyone and everyone can enjoy the view, and the food stalls – but not the water, if you are sensible and aware of local sewage processing!

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The skyline. The evening sun setting over the city. Such hazy skies, and a strange sense of calm as the air cooled very slightly and the sound of beeping horns drifted around the corners and across the roof tops. The city stayed busy late into the night, or, if you like,  early into the morning. 

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The airport. Hands up if you like airports? Well, I do! Chhatrapati Shivaji airport was huge and shiny. It seemed like we had to go through many, many security checks to even get inside. But, it was worth it – because otherwise we would have missed our flights. There was a large water fountain, surrounded by luscious greenery. Tiny birds were living in the trees, creating their own little pockets of paradise without permission.

So, that’s it then! I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey… can I interest you in another onion bhaji?

Welcome to the World of Karen Harvey: photographer, writer, creative consultant… self proclaimed cat whisperer, chicken wrangler and chief cake taster!