Tag Archives: rochester

Peanut Butter Appreciation Day at Bruno’s French Bakes

Bruno's Bakes Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Cake at Bruno's Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Yesterday I continued my patronage of small businesses in Rochester (you can see my post on The Henderson’s here), and I journeyed forth to partake in the inaugural Peanut Butter Appreciation Day at Rochester’s tiniest French patisserie, Bruno’s French Bakes.

The café is at the far end of our High Street, which unfortunately is notorious for a slow footfall, even for such a busy part of town. I’ve known of a number of cafés that have started out there, only to close up shop down the line, because they just can’t capture enough customers.

I’ve always thought that there was a relatively easy cure to this: make your café a destination. Make it the reason people come to the High Street! I know, I know, that’s much easier said than done.

Unless, apparently, you’re Bruno or Rick. This pair have done a remarkable job in publicising their delectable products, and I am yet to go to Bruno’s and be the only customer in the joint. That place is heaving. From my point of view, part of their success is due to the fact that they do create these wonderful celebratory events, like Peanut Butter Day and 2014’s Doughnut Day, both of which have been widely advertised. Who am I to refuse? Seriously, it’s a siren’s call.

Ultimately, the proof is in the (literal) pudding. Their cakes are to die for, and the look you can see on my face above is one of half joy, and half despair at the sheer beauty of the Peanut Butter and Chocolate pie I was consuming. Despair that it would end, and despair that it was surely too calorific to enjoy again immediately. Mr H had something similar, but with waffles, maple syrup and bacon topping. I mean come on. JOY.

If you’re in town, please go here immediately.

My Weekend Has Been Spent #7

Fleabag Marlowe Theatre Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Sam at the Marlowe Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Saturday Morning Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Lunch with Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Sam at Lunch Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

  • Starting as I meant to go on, by attending a really wonderful production of Fleabag at the Marlowe Studio in Canterbury. A great show, and I’ll post a proper review soon!
  • Attempting to take a discreet selfie – proof that I really did go out on a Friday night! Yes, me! I went out!
  • Waking up Saturday morning to breakfast hand prepared and delivered by Mr Hello. He don’t half treat me well, don’t he!
  • Attacking the spare room. Still not complete, but at least now it’s tidy enough that I have evidence that there is a bed in there! We’re hoping to get the walls and ceiling replastered and painted soon, so it looks even more presentable before some guests descend for the wedding.
  • Heading into Rochester to pay the deposit for our wedding rings. We are getting them from Kaizen Antiques, a jeweller on the High St. Lovely shop, lovely service, terrrrrrible website.
  • Taking our luncheon at the institution of Pizza Express. We got a lovely private table and partook of some rather delicious food. Many despise any chain restaurants or stores on our historic High Street, and while I can see the point, it’s also hard to argue with something like Pizza Express, that has consistently good food and good hygiene standards, when other local businesses get very poor hygiene ratings indeed! Blergh.
  • Taking some more surreptitious selfies in PE. Proof I was out of the house!
  • Heading back home for an afternoon nap that turned into an early night.
  • Waking on Sunday morning bright and early – getting the ol’ body clock back into gear now that I have a new job! (PS I have a new job! Starting in April)
  • Improvising a breakfast pizza which was weird and delicious but being unable to share the ingredients with you because you will judge me – you definitely will.
  • Heading to the gym because I am sad and I have a dress to fit into, goddamn it.
  • Taking a turn about TK Maxx with the chap. Two new frying pans being the result.
  • Heading home and changing into my “no-one must see me in these” clothes in preparation for:
  • Deep cleaning the house from top to bottom. God this task is very dull but somehow immensely satisfying.
  • Cooking a roast that worked (yay) and Yorkshire puds for the first time that also worked (double yay)!
  • Sitting on my derriere for the rest of the evening, watching Call the Midwife & Poldark. Quite satisfactory indeed.
  • Grabbing my laptop to write this. I’m really keen to keep the blogging mojo a-flowing.

Next weekend my goals are to actually leave the house properly and possibly even talk to someone who is not a cat or my future husbo! Chance of success remains to be seen. Hope you had a fab weekend – I am terribly nosey so if you fancy chatting in the comments please do!

This Week I Was Grateful For #4

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Vines

I’ve posted a similar picture of The Vines in Rochester before, but this is the park seen through new eyes. It all feels wonderfully similar, and wonderfully different since my Australian jaunt.

The path in this photos reminds me of the journey I’m on at the moment. I’ve got a few professional challenges coming up this year, and instead of freaking out about it, I’m choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to stretch my comfort zone.

I hope you all have a great start to the first week of March 2015. Do let me know what you’re getting up to in the comments!

The Hendersons Will All Be There

Last weekend I had the pleasure of singing an old favourite Beatles tune for about 30 minutes after visiting the newest addition to Rochester High Street. Reader, I give you:

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 1

Situated in the wonkiest shop in Rochester, possibly the world, The Hendersons is a treasure trove for vintage lovers and discerning shoppers alike. I know the shop well, by which I mean I know the physical shop, as I used to live in the tiny flat below!

I had heard rumblings of the shop opening as The Hendersons have held a stall for months at the Rochester Flea. Mr H and I are known for a deep and enduring love of a good rifle about for treasures, but we’re so overwhelmed with charity shops in Rochester that a bit of careful curation makes a real difference to my mental state, and therefore my likelihood to have a proper look around.

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 4

 

See? Happy as Larry.Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 5

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 6

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 7

 

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 4

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 3

There was a rather fabulous orange sectional sofa in the store that looked decidedly 70’s, but I didn’t manage to get a picture, because there was someone purchasing it!

The reasons that I am chuffed to bits about The Hendersons opening in Rochester are thus:

  • Small entrepreneurship (especially where women are employed in key roles) is ace
  • The Hendersons is run by a young couple – see, the youth of today aren’t too bad after all!
  • That shop gets so much attention because of it’s unusual shape, that there should be something in there to benefit from it all!
  • Their stock and styling is so deliciously on point that it makes me feel excited for Rochester. The more design-y and bespoke that Rochester gets, the better, in my book.
  • Stores like this breed other stores like this, which makes people like me want to stay in Kent. We don’t need to go to London to get fabulous homewares, or to find that perfect gift for that friend that likes things just so.
  • I bought a candle from there that smells good and though it cost a lot more than I would usually spend on a candle I didn’t feel remotely guilty because I am supporting a small business. Altruism for the win! (not sure it actually counts as altruism but I don’t care)

Mr H and I had a good all poke about, we got lovely attentive (but not too attentive) service and afterwards we got a delicious piece of cake from Bruno’s French Bakes to celebrate.

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha - The Hendersons 2

All in all, not a bad Saturday indeed.

This Week I Was Grateful For #3

Sam in Rochester - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this photo over the weekend. I asked Mr H to take a quick snap of me outside Restoration House, the most amazing Elizabethan Mansion sitting smack bang in the middle of Rochester.

I don’t always love photos of myself (let’s face it, who does?) but I love this photo. He’s captured me in a joyful moment, with the gratitude I feel about being back in England, in the middle of winter, wandering around with a ruddy marvellous chap, just radiating out of my face.

Did I tell you that I’m just so happy to be back?

The Everyday Rhythm

Home Office Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Week 2 of my return to England is imminent, and so I thought a little catch up might be on the cards to let you know how I’m settling in. It’s been an up and down sort of a week to be honest, but let’s start with the positives because that makes us all feel better, no?

UP:

  • Actually making it through Customs at Heathrow. Despite the fact I am doing absolutely nothing illegal, somehow the powerful stares of the Border Agency staff make me regret every decision I have ever made, particularly in the lead up to the moment when I’m asked to plonk my passport on their tiny desks. I made it through, as you may have guessed, and it was a GREAT MOMENT.
  • Home. Bed. Cats.
  • Wandering around Rochester and feeling both the foreigner and the local. An odd yet pleasing sensation.
  • Picking up long awaited packages from the Post Office. Hello engagement present vouchers and Liz Earle Skincare. Nice to meet you.
  • Having time to make dinner in the evening. I love to cook, so this is fun for me!
  • Catching up with dear friends and feeling as if nothing has changed. Em, I adore you.
  • Snuggling with Mr Hello in the morning for five more minutes before walking him into work.
  • Getting excited for phase 2 of Operation Finish The House Before the Wedding. The phase where we freak out, that is.
  • Exciting meetings with exciting people about future potentially exciting jobs. I may very well soon be an employed teacher! EXCITING.
  • Catching up with Mr Hello’s folks. They are totally delightful and indulged my loves of their son, eating lots of delicious food, and looking at old photos. A Sunday well spent.
  • Sitting in our study (above) and watching people walk past our house as I type.

DOWN:

  • Turns out it’s not that much fun not having a job. On the one hand, there is more time for Parks and Recreation viewing, but on the other there is more time for getting the guilts about being a burden on society, and more to the point a burden on Mr H. Plus it’s a bit boring.
  • No Polish passport as yet, which means no working until it arrives. A couple more weeks, but then hopefully I will have that burgundy booklet it my hot little hand!
  • Missing my family. Goddamn it, why do I have to feel the feelings?
  • Extreme hair has arrived. Something in the British water takes a while for me to adjust to, and in the meantime my hair freaks out in an unmanageable way, making me feel more self conscious than I already was. Thanks Life!
  • To top it off, I am having a particularly bad skin phase, hence the timely arrival of the Liz Earle goodies.
  • I have a wedding to co-plan in six months. How, where and why did that happen? Last time I checked, it was over a year away. God preserve me.
  • It’s effing cold here and I am a delicate flower who has become accustomed to a certain level of UV radiation every day.
  • This may well be the most boring thing in the world to approximately everyone, but last night I had a dream that Hannibal Lector (yep, that one) was showing me his latest victim, and opened up a hole in the ground to reveal a naked and screaming Jodie Foster within. I was subsequently stabbed. Got a bit freaked out by that one, I must admit, and it was only worsened by the fact that when I checked the time it was only……11:57 pm. Not even midnight, shamefully. I then had to calm myself down by reading blogs and looking at silly gifs on Tumblr until 2am. Whoops.

Hope all is well in your lives. Seeing as I am currently a member of the unemployed, I suspect I will be dropping in to HSGS Headquarters on a semi regular basis. Here’s to seeing a bit more of you!

9 Superficial Things I’m Looking Forward to in England

Rochester Cathedral 2013 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Rochester Castle 2013 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
Rochester Cathedral & Castle in January 2013

You may or may not have suspected there are some rather important reasons why I can’t wait to get back to England. I’ve built a life there, and there are lots of lovely people I’ve missed hugely while I’ve been back in Australia. But I thought today, I’d focus on the trivial things, those little stupid things you notice are different when you move to a different country. So without further ado, here are the 9 Superficial Things I’m Looking Forward to in England:

  • Buying wine in the supermarket – Look, rumour has it this is possible Over East in Australia, but it hasn’t caught on yet in ye olde Perth. It’s just so darn convenient to pick up a bottle when you’re getting your week’s veg as well. This is definitely a plus point of English Supermarkets
  • Having a bazillion supermarkets to choose from – In Australia we have Coles, Woolworths and IGA as the three biggest food markets. Even then, I’d go so far as to say that IGA is more like the UK Co-op, usually smaller stalls and can be a tad more expensive. It is a co-operative of smaller outlets though, so you don’t feel too bad spending the extra $$$. In England, you’ve got your M&S, Sainsbury, Morrison, Waitress, and Tesco, not to mention online shopping through Ocado. I just love the variety. What can I say, I’m just interesting like that
  • Boots – Oh my god Boots. Not the footwear kind, but this kind. There is no equivalent in Australia. Let that just sink in for a moment. There is no equivalent in Australia. I would say that Priceline would be the nearest, but it’s nowhere near the ‘institution’ level that Boots has reached in the UK, plus it’s a lot less common and much smaller stores. I’m looking forward to having several aimless wanders around my local, contemplating all of the many potions and lotions they stock. Oh yes.
  • Getting post on Saturdays – I’m pretty sure getting post is quite exciting for most people these days, even if a lot of the letters I get aren’t handwritten letters. But it’s definitely handy having that 6th day to receive mail. It means if one is a bit slack on the old card sending side of things, one has an extra day’s leeway that one simply wouldn’t have out in the Colonies!
  • Netflix – Oh my god Netflix. I do know you can get it by some strange hocus pocus in Australia if you are into that sort of thing, but in my lovely Kentish house, it’s hooked up through our Apple TV and my god if that isn’t dashed convenient. I’m looking forward to awkwardly draping myself over Mr Hello on the sofa while we watch some BBC Drama (preferably a period piece ploise) when I get back.
  • TK Maxx – What more can I say? If you’ve never been to TK Maxx you haven’t lived. It’s an outlet shop for a wide variety of brands, but I mostly go there for the homewares. The best way to describe it is like an Op Shop/Charity Shop, but filled with new things. You aren’t guaranteed to come out with anything useful every time, but some times you may stumble across an Orla Kiely bedspread for a third of the price. Just saying’.
  • Jacket Potatoes in every single café – Evidently if you don’t serve jacket potatoes on your lunch menu in England you can GTFO. As a potato loving Pole, I see no problem with this. No delicious cheesy potatoey problem at all
  • Tuna & Sundried Tomato Baguettes from Tony Lorenzo – Now this is particular to my little neck of the woods in Medway, but I have to say, this is the best sandwich ever. I always get this when I visit. It’s just the tastiest, most satisfying thing. Apart from jacket potatoes of course. 
  • John Lewis – It really is the stupidest thing, but I truly believe John Lewis is my happy place. I feel so much more calm walking around the store, and it’s homewares section makes me feel like all is right with the world. I very rarely actually buy anything there, if I’m honest, but it’s calming white walls have an exquisite effect on me. See I told you it was superficial.

There are many reasons to celebrate returning to the UK. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the stupid things that make you happy though. This list is definitely going to make the transition from 40 degree summer madness in Perth to a nippy 4 degree England a little bit smoother.

I’ll be posting my list of trivial things I’ll miss about Australia very soon, so if this kind of thing is your jam, stay tuned!

Make. Build. Repair. Play. MacGyver Club at coFWD

Instagram images courtesy of Nat at coFWD

To kick of the last bank holiday weekend of the year, yesterday I went down to the coworking space in Rochester for their MacGyver Club, which was an opportunity to have a play, to make something or help a pal out in the company of the excellent coworkers.

My task? build a blackboard screen for our bunting stall at the upcoming Creative Brides Vintage and Unique Wedding Fair at Scotney Castle (that sounds rather impressive, doesn’t it!). I’ve been a bit worried that our stall wasn’t looking its best, and so I’ve been putting some energy into a redesign. I even jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon and pulled together some stall design ideas.  I’m generally a bit hesitant to make things that involve drilling, but in the end, I bit the proverbial bullet and thought I would lean on my pals at coFWD for a spot of moral support.
Other coworkers and friends were down playing with Raspberry Pies. I have no idea what they are, but it’s some sort of computer geekery, and they all seemed to be having a lot of fun. I got scared that I would spill blackboard paint over the lot, but this was thankfully avoided. I did manage to spill paint all over myself, but hey, no real surprises there!
The vibe at the space is always really fun, low pressure but supportive. I’m chuffed to bits that I can get down there every Wednesday, and it’s great to have something social on a weekend that doesn’t always involved getting on the booze.
I haven’t finished the screen yet, but I’m hoping I’ll get it done in the next few days, Stay tuned for the results!

Act 1: In Which it’s Still Winter

The knub and gist of this post is – it’s still winter in England – I’m cold, and ill, and at approximately 14:42 every day I delve into post-Australian-holiday gloom as I remember the blissful weather I’m missing out on back home. Is it always like this, England? So unreliable? So endless?
But then I walk through my town, and I get to see the view in the picture above. Filled my shrivelled heart with joy, it did, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. It was the kind of day that could only be so beautiful because of a combination of factors, which individually could (and often have) make one utterly miserable. But that day, there was just enough of a blue sky, and just enough sunshine to hint to me that Spring and – don’t get your hopes up – Summer aren’t too far around the corner.
Evidently I could never be a Stark. Shit’s waaaay too cold for the likes of me up in Winterfell.

 

Moscow, Paris….Rochester

A spot of Saturday opportunity shopping never goes astray. I’ve inherited the gene from ma mere, although I’m certain she’ll attest to the fact that I simply loathed op-shopping growing up. It was the smell, and the endless racks of creepy early 90’s lingerie that I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting EVER. I still shudder at the thought.
But I can think of at least three experiences where I pointed and laughed at items that would now be hugely desirable and uber-cool-retro-vintage. I pointed and laughed and walked the hell away. I wasn’t ready for that jelly. Oh how times have changed. I give you, my latest spoils:
Heaven is Russian literature and French lessons on vinyl! I haven’t read Anna Karenina before, but I’ll be proud to while away the bus journey holding this sumptuous edition. Look at it! Doesn’t it whisper sweet literary nothings in thine ears?
I definitely pranced home holding these beauties in my hot little hands. I had visions of perfecting my shamefully rusty French, or at the very least getting a number of satisfactorily vintage sayings under one’s precisely pinned hat. There was the slight fear that it would be another well-intentioned purchase that sits, unhappy and neglected (although absurdly attractively) atop one’s bookcase, but non. This time was to be different, amis, this time I would rise to the occasion and LEARN something, dammit.
Everything was right with the world…..UNTIL…quelle horreur mes amis! QUELLE. The records are 78s. I have as 33/45 player so the distinguished chap on the recording sounds like he’s taking the piss “FRrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaancaiseeeeeeeer”. Quel dommage, but not to worry, I’m sure there’s beaucoup de 78 players lurking in the shops of Kent. There must be, dammit, or I really have recommitted the mortal sin of buying something romantically useless. This I cannot abide.
But not to worry, amis, this is just one more reason to continue on the charity shop prowl, non?