The problem with shopping in Hollister as a 30 something


Warning – non cake related post! This is part of my new random funny musings on life section so ignore if you wish dear readers or read on and find out random snippets from my 30 something life.

So my husband declared himself a ‘me’ day and went off windsurfing and I decided on a child free day that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander so I ventured out for a day with me, myself and I. The train was packed to Bath but the drunks on the train made the experience mildly entertaining by yelling out ‘nobody fart’ in the crowded nose in each armpit carriage and the child in me stifled a laugh because that just would’t be grown up would it.

From the train I ventured to Hollister which is my favourite shop despite not being 12 I have confession to make I love it there. I’m not sure if it is because it is dark and nobody can see my wrinkles, the cool surf carefree music taking me back to my youth or the rather alluring man on the bag at the end that even though inside I know he is probably gay but he always does it for me and I clutch my bag with pride as I leave. The last time to Hollister they had the bag with just the male body and no head which was such a treat for me. As my Husband carried the shopping back to the car I said ‘Could you hold the bag a bit higher? No just a tad more – yes that’s it!’ I exclaimed as he held it about neck height and suddenly he had a body to die for- that’s OK right or is that a 50 shades of grey area (more on that topic another day!).

Hollister Bags

On entering a Hollister store in my head my sparkly bits in my hair are transformed to blonde sun kissed highlights and lets face it nobody would know as it is so damn dark in there. I feel at home in there, hell you could be in there all day with the magazines, cool leather charis, tunes, perfumes to spritz in the air and walk through. In this store I am able to mingle with the cool, beautiful people who say Hello to ME! In my defence this has never happened to me as at school I was the ugly child who would often be found screaming inside a wooden desk with the beautiful people sat on top of it laughing.

Hollister staff are so darn happy in there that I found myself contemplating how many times I could go in and out of the shop just to be greeted and wished a great day too? Would I get escorted out and outcast like my School days? Nope I actually managed it 3 times as my luck was in and the bag by the face technique was obviously working. Oh OK there was a different person on the door each time but still I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman instead of a the sad 30 something I am. All I needed to complete that picture would be a Hollister God with his low slung shorts, flip flop’s a flipping as he tends to my every clothing need whilst clicking his fingers to call Adonis, Sutra and Romeo (sigh). They should offer a groupon for that I would totally buy it and gift some too.

The problem with shopping in Hollister when you’re a 30 something is:

1. You have to pretend to be looking for a teenager not yourself.
2. You need a head torch to see anything or at least an iPhone torch app to light up the prices. Personally I pack both and ignore the strange looks.
3. If you forget your head torch you will need to do the charchtersitic ‘I am over 30 signal’ which is holding the garment up to the nearest downlighter whilst tutting loudly at the price for such a small piece of material – young people NEVER do this!
3. Always head for the messy shelves and make like a possessed woman at a jumble sale.
4. If you are over a size 12 forget it – Hollister only make clothes for tiny people and 12 year olds.
5. If you have managed to make it to a 30 something with no cellutlite or stretch marks I salute you. That won’t be many of us I am sure. A word of warning here the short short shortest of shorts (that’s the only offerings in Hollister) you are daring to try on may look good in the specially dimmed lighting but in reality they are not quite so forgiving so give us all a break.
6. The changing room doors are really high up so bear this in mind when you are trying to coerce and wiggle yourself into contorsionist angles to get into a pair of skinny jeans (the largest size available and you are only a 10 normally) the thin young, pretty pre-pubescent people will be able to see your dance and snigger.
7. You will need a pair of shades to protect your eyes from the vampire like shock of daylight as you head outside as your realise your night owl days are long gone and you just can’t cope with the two extremes and end up walking into people whilst your eyes are adjusting.

Excited with my new purchases I also brought something for everyone else in the family basically so I don’t feel guilty because I love them . I had a great day and proudly showed my new bikini to my Husband but when my Son walked in and then held a five minute conversation with my breasts and I realised with some sadness it was time to have ‘that talk’ with him. Of course on heading off to get some clothes on I heard my Husband say to him ‘Don’t listen to your Mother you can have a conversation with girls boobs just not your mum’s cause thats not cool’ tsk tsk Mr Cakeboule you’re supposed to back me up but as I made you carry the bag so high the other day I’ll let you off just once. To end the day I celebrated with a pink lemonade cocktail (click on link for recipe) and watched the icy heart melt (sigh) yes a perfect end to a perfect day whilst they watched football I sat in my far too tiny Hollister shorts that I have to say I will not be seen dead in outside of the house but I am not capable of taking my own advice. Just to freak them out I correctly predicted each goal or fail in the penalty shoot out and then got blamed for jinxing it so I guess I only have my Hollister bag for company tonight ūüôā

Pink Lemonade Heart

Pink Lemonade Cocktail Cakeboule

Love to all x Why no recipe I hear you wonder – hell I have to fit Hollister clothes – enough said!

Tales, Gales and Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies from a VW Camper


I’m finally back safely inside four walls¬†from a wet and windy week in Devon in our newly restored 1979 Moonraker¬†VW Campervan. This has been my¬†childhood dream which has taken my husband nearly two years of really hard work to make it reality.¬†Join me in my little journey with some funny moments through instagram as well as a quick recipe for triple chocate mocha brownies which I just had to bake when I was finally reunited with my¬†oven (see if you too are a baking addict here).

Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Many of you have met May (the VW Camper) before but here she is:

VW Camper 1979

May’s first trip

The week before the holiday welcomed glorious sunshine which was hotter than anywhere in Europe ensuring that Britain was finally baring its brigade of white legs. Of course in true British style a double bank holiday to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee and a coinciding half term from school meant that the weather was always destined to take a turn for the worst.

1979 VW Moonraker

Even the rice pops matched!

The first disaster was the brand new fridge (but brought a year ago) which stopped working the night before and filled the van with nasty gases meaning my military precision meal plan was out the window and I was forced to live camping life on the edge (well with ice blocks anyway).

Instagram image

We finally set off and crawled our way to Devon with¬†my Husband’s best bromance¬†friend (I’ll call him Ronald) following behind in his ‘Herbie’ style Beetle which caused a lot of amusement in the Services.¬† The duo had planned secret signals to communicate with each other on the way down in SAS style (aka Sad and Stupid!).

VW Campervan Herbie Beetle

The troublesome duo

After a 5 hour stop start journey we found another member of the VW family next to us and luckily¬†we got the tent up just before…

Raining

But even with the rain my newly purchased rainbow bunting seemed to make it all a little bit brighter (how stupid was I?)

Rainbow Bunting

A wet campsite

The Twilight Zone

Ron has to lose some weight so as well as starving him for the week (I don’t make as much food as he gets at home) we were making him go for walks too. I like to think of it as VW inspired weight loss holiday camp¬†(people pay loads of money for those don’t they?).¬† We came across a set of ‘slippery when wet’ steps (220 of them) on our hike wn I suddenly had the urge to stop and turn around.¬†My husband took a photo of me and¬†when we looked back at the photograph there was a rather spooky ‘thing’ standing next to me.¬† At first I thought it was a mirror image of me but from looking at the actual picture it isn’t.¬†¬†It does look rather like a man stood next to me and there was nobody there at the time.¬† This image is only one taken of my computer screen but you get the idea!.¬† Whatever it is the trail goes right in front¬†of me and certainly makes me wonder what’s out there?

Spooky image

What is it it?????

The ‘Wee Wee’ shuffle

After all the rain I was soaked through and in need of a shower so I plodded off. One of the things¬†I hate about camping is the journey to the toilet block. When you are at home you will never need to get up in the night to go to the loo yet when camping it will be a nightly adventure of dodging guy ropes, muddy puddles and twisting your ankle in rabbit holes to get there. The added joy is that when you are doing this your bladder is fit to burst and the urgency is making you do the ‘wee wee’ shuffle walk all the way there which in reality is speed walking but with a swagger on. Luckily it’s dark and you just have to pray nobody sees you.

wee wee walk

Wet, Wet, Wet

The other joyous thing about camping is the showers and¬†after a day of being wet right through I decided that I would warm up and get some dry clothes.¬†The showering part is alright it ‘s the apres shower that sucks.¬†The clothes that normally I do not have a problem getting on shrink and gain a unique ‘cling-on’ style¬†quality. Every inch of fabric has to be pulled and coerced onto my skin in way that is similar to getting a wet suit on. The challenge of the campsite showers¬†game¬†is you have to do it without getting one inch of your clothes in the grass ridden muddy puddles that form in this unique environment. So there I was feeling a bit warmer, ready to put on my dry pair of smalls when they decided they would do a triple somersault¬†out of my hands. Crying ‘Nooooooo’ I scrambled after them whilst witnessing in horror their¬†second¬†by second descent¬†towards the muddy depths of camping puddle hell. My feet started slipping and sliding on the floor as I overstretched and eventually I came to a crash on my knees half in and half out of the shower curtain to the amusement of my fellow¬†female campers.¬†¬†There was an awkward few second¬†stillness in the¬†room¬†as they took in my rather crumpled state, a floating pair of underwear with tears forming in my eyes. It was then I got the campers nod that says ‘it’s OK we’ve all been there’ and then they duly¬†carried on¬†brushing their teeth probably thanking their lucky stars that their clothes were dry whilst I regained my composure and dignity.

The sun will come out tomorrow

Every Brit knows that a ray of sunshine¬†means shorts even if it’s still freezing cold outside but who cares the sun is out! We had a picnic (shivering) on the beach and watched the air ambulance rescue some poor surfer and before leaving¬†we found a nice little pub after many arguments and ordered coffees.¬† ‘That’s not ours is it?’¬†Ronald innocently asked as the barmaid¬†gave him his coffee.¬†Ronald had never had espresso before so it was quite a shock for him to see such a small cup¬†– bless him. To make up for it¬†he ordered cheesy chips and the rest of them had brownie sundaes whilst¬†I enjoyed a beer in the sun and smirked over the whole mini coffee incident quietly.

San Miguel

What do you get when you cross Herbie, four people and a steep hill? The answer: you get a poor little car screaming her nuts and bolts off to try to get up the hill in first gear!  The big boys had their hands out the windows and were making whipping gestures as if Herbie were a horse. My Son and I furiously were rowing in the back seat to help gain speed and the family in the car behind us were doing pushing movements to try to and help us up the hill!  We screamed with laughter and when she (yes in times of equality this Herbie has had a sex change) finally made it to the top (although it would probably have been quicker to have walked) we got applause from the rather large queue of traffic behind and the car waiting to come down the hill.

Trying to get up the hill

Trying to get up the hill – you can do it Herbie

Always watch where you sit

The next rainy day we ventured¬†to an outlet shopping village. Whilst sat in a coffee shop Ron who is proud¬†of himself for ordering an extra¬†large coffee to make up for his last error.¬† He looks across to see two not quite so attractive teenage girls walk in. He¬†turns to my Son¬†and says ‘There you go there’s some girls for you’ and laughs. I am shocked to learn hy Son is actually interested¬†in girls (I know I shoudl know better) and my son turns to look his¬†face is an absolute picture of horror which in turn makes the boys laugh. In life I do believe in¬†karma so the next thing we knew there was a loud¬†clatter.¬†All we see is Ron’s head poking out¬†between the two seats which he is now wedged between as his hearty laughter caused him to fall off his chair and the sign behind bent. I actually cried with laughter at this one.

Costa Coffee

Tantrums and Tiaras

By now with the continual rain everyone was forced to be with each other 24/7 which meant that quite frankly we were all starting to get on each others nerves. As much as you may love the people you are with there is a thing called personal space and you miss it when you don’t have any. I found I spent time sat in the loo just for a bit of respite and dryness. We knew the weather was going so I asked my husband if the wind speed was likely to be gale force (the campsite was quickly emptying – did they know something I didn’t)¬†and he promised me it wasn’t and as a occasional windsurfing instructor¬†I believed him.¬† First big rookie camper mistake – never believe a man when it comes to size or speed.

driftwood

We went for a quiet walk (well needed) with just the two of us and I got a feeling it was time to head back as we sat on the beach in a rare moment of sunshine.

and relax

and relax….

That night has to be the worst night ever in my camping history and I have already admitted firmly to being a fair weather camper. The tent swayed, buckled and the van rocked and trust me the old adage of ‘don’t come a knocking if the van is a rocking’ clearly doesn’t apply when you’re sat in a tent in the middle of nowhere with winds that were 5mph less than hurricane category (oh how¬†he lied to me). The wind and rain was so loud the DVD the boys were trying to watch could not be heard. Incidently the DVD was ‘idiot abroad’ and I said to my Husband by making us stay he was making us do our own version but called ‘An idiot on a campsite’ which I think should be the next big reality show to hit our TV screens just think of all the things you would see like stupid people who stay in gale force winds and wee wee shufflers falling down holes.

Packing up

Ronald spent the evening laughing at me for being scared of the wind but by Friday morning good old Karma was back in force. Ronald proclaimed loudly and repeatedly that he had officially had enough and was going home, directly home without passing go. That night the wind had blown rain straight into his bedroom compartment throught the air vents, his air bed burst and he woke up doing breast-stroke in his tent and not being a great lover of exercise at the best of times this was the straw that broke the camels back. After many arguments, a full on diva style strop (my husband) and weather searches on the internet we finally gave up and packed up our gear.

Hours of washing later and the next day being warm and sunny (ironic huh) my Son and I sat and played scrabble but from the words you see¬†I must have been traumatised by it all! My husband who is obviously not traumatised by it sodded off in the van to spend yet another day in a field at with VW’s at a show but he got a sunnier day (git). Would I do it again? Yes sadly I would and I am already planning next years trip but perhaps Spain would be kinder to us weather wise.

Scrabble

ChocaMocha Brownies
As we had brownie sundaes on holiday I just had to bake some when I got home – a perfect holiday memory and the coffee addition well thats¬†there to always¬†remind me of that moment in Costa (tee hee). There won’t be posh pictures this time as quite frankly sometimes life is too short but trust me they hit the spot.

85g butter
100g plain chocolate
175g dark muscavado sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tbs instant coffee mixed wtih 1 tsp of boiling water
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g white chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)
50g milk chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)

Triple Chocolate Mocha BrowniesInstructions

1. Preheat oven to 180C / 160 Fan / Gas 4
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and melt .  Stir and leave to cool.
3. Put the sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Fold in the choclate mixture and then sift the flour and baking powder over. Fold in carefully (lightly). add the chopped chocolate and pour into a 18cm tin round or square.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins (depends on how you like your brownies – if you like really gooey you may even fnd it is 20 mins)
5. Leave in the tin to cool and then cut into squares. Job done, sit back and dry off if you have just got back from camping like me. If you have a 20cm tin it will still work but bake for 20 -25 mins and it will be a little bit flatter.  Always tastes the same.

Enjoy x

I am entering these brownies into We Should Cocoa ran by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog as this month it is coffee! This month is hosted by Laura who runs the Kitchen Maid blog.

Baking Addiction Series (Part 2)


True Confessions of a Baking Addict – I blame Adriano Zumbo
As always this is based on a true story (my neighbours do not talk to me anymore apart from the ones I feed cake too)

Baking addiction as you can see from part one of the series has a lot to answer for in my life.  When recently leaving for work I was having a bit of a baking addict episode and from referring to the handy guidelines in part one I knew I had already reached stage two of baking addiction that day as in the short space of 60 seconds I had:

1. watched erotic images of layered chocolate mouse cake by Adriano Zumbo (a highly recognised patisserie found in Australia).
2: stopped mid step down the driveway gazing longingly at the cake on my phone screen.
3. experienced a feeling of unusual warmth despite cold temperatures outside.
4. found myself licking my lips as if I could taste the velvety chocolate.
5. a twinkle in my eye reserved only for highly calorific sweet cakes that make me want to rub my face in them.

If you have not heard of Adriano Zumbo¬†I found him winking at me from the Good Food channel with a series called Zumbo’s. Initially I thought is was quite¬†inspirational¬†to have an exercise program on¬†a food channel to combat all those calories viewers must gain¬†just from watching.¬† I¬†soon realised to my utter delight that¬†Zumbo’s¬†was not an exercise program but a beautiful patissiere.¬† My luck was in as¬†I¬†was not going to be cavorting round my living room trying to look sexy but¬†exercising my eyes over an unprecedented array of¬†macarons¬†and tarts and therefore he had my complete and undivided open mouthed attention. Wow!

The Confession
However Mr Zumbo and his staff got me into a spot of bother the other morning many thousands of miles across the World from the gorgeous patisserie.  Let me take you back to a normal school day.  If this was a confession style TV show you would hear the sad violins playing right now.

Mr Postman
After watching Zumbo’s¬†the night before I knew I wanted to find¬†the recipe for Adriano’s decadent¬†chocolate mousse cake.¬† Completely besotted with the sultry chocolate¬†images on my phone, my son got into the car ahead of me¬†and a loud tutting¬†sound made me look up.¬† I¬†saw the post man approaching with his usual weary steps so I smiled in acknowledgement but instead of his usual morning cheery wave he turned abruptly and crossed over to the other side of the street his pace quickening.¬† How rude I thought to myself and I had¬†another quick glance at the cake just to make it all better¬†(click image for recipe).

Chocolate Junior Masterchef Challenge

Am I dressed?
After the cake imagery disappeared¬†from view I felt¬†a combination of withdrawal pangs and a nagging curiosity as¬†to what could have upset the Post Man that morning who is normally such a cheery soul.¬†¬†I looked down initially¬†to¬†make sure I had actually got dressed (it has been known). Luckily today was a day where I was fully ready to go to work,¬†my skirt was not¬†tucked in knickers (that is a whole other story) and was therefore¬†fairly presentable, so what was it?¬†¬†My gaze returned upwards when I saw¬†the neighbour opposite quickly shuffling children into the car with a notable glare.¬†¬†The dog next door¬†just sat and stared at me, barked¬†twice¬†and whipped¬†her tail high in the air before turning¬†to show¬†me a full delightful view of her backside (who says dogs can’t talk?).¬†¬†Whatever I had done recently neighbours and dogs were clearly¬†not impressed by it.¬† Whilst I may not notice much in my Adriano Zumbo¬†‘WIlly Wonka’ style¬†bubble¬†after a rule of 3¬†set of incidents I¬†knew I must have done something¬†very wrong indeed.

I got into my car still confused and looked at my son.  He shifted his eyes away from me so I asked him what I had done wrong?  The conversation went like this:

Me: Did I do something to upset the Postman and Neighbours?
Son:¬†Well …. yes but it’s a bit embarrassing to explain.
Me: It’s OK you can tell me, now come on what was it I did?
Son: Well you were kind of yelling and panting.
Me: What an earth do you mean?
Son: Well you know that shampoo advert (long pause)
Me: The Herbal Essences one?
Son: Dunno, you know the one where the lady is screaming in the shower when she washes her hair?
Me: Yes , the Herbal Essences one (still not realising)
Son: Well you were making that kind of noise.  Loudly!
Me: Oh (awkward silence)

His reply caused a cold sensation that tingled down my spine as I¬†realised¬†with much embarrassment that¬†I had truly arrived that morning at stage 3 of baking addiction courtesy of Mr Zumbo and his crew.¬†¬†I can only assume this comes from the withdrawal symptoms¬†from knowing that this particular cake is¬†nearly a whole days flight away from the UK and therefore there is no way I am ever going to get my hands on one.¬† My inner psyche must have though it would be funny to involuntarily make me do the baking addicts call for cake¬†by reenacting¬†the¬†restaurant scene with orgasm style yelling from ‘When Harry met Sally’.¬† I would not have minded so much but apparently my Son tells me I was in full Dolby digital surround sound for the whole street to hear just as the Postman arrived which perhaps explains¬†why the Postman always rings twice at our house?¬†¬†Mortified¬†I quickly drove off from the house¬†not daring to look at who else was out in the street and the car was oddly silent all the way to School.¬†

Feeding my Addiction
So what is a person to do when they reach this state of addiction?  Do I:

1. Attend Bakers Anonymous (#BA).
2. Continue to feed my baking soul with tasty treats.
3.¬†Save up for 5 years so I can fly off to sunny Australia and¬†drool¬†outside¬†Zumbo’s window and lick the glass.¬† I must have had this stuck in my head as when I googled the location of Adriano’s I put in ‘Lickation’ by accident and that is a place you do not want to go on Google!¬† I seem to have a fondness for standing outside shop windows – as you can read in my Tiffany¬†inspired champagne layer cake post.

What would you do and which stage of baking addiction are you at – comment and let me know your baking confessions as I am sure I am not alone! ¬†I’d love to write a book on it, in fact I can see the title now ‘True Confessions of Baking Addicts’.¬† More¬† in the series to come so sign up so you do not miss an episode of baking drama!