The Star & Mouse Picture Show

Following its very successful debut season in 2017, the Star & Mouse “trinket cinema” is back, bringing film screenings underneath the stars at fabulous venues in and around Cambridge at weekends from May through to September.  This is a very different experience to the one you’ll get at your local multiplex!

The Star & Mouse Picture Show
Image credit:  The Star & Mouse Picture Show

The inspiration for The Star & Mouse Picture Show, owned by Eleanor Lyons and Christian Juschck, came from the way they were already spending time with their friends … evenings of fairy lights, food, fire pits and fancy dress in their garden with their old projector rigged up to screen a movie onto a bed sheet.  Eleanor loves to create a magical world, just as her Dad did for her when she was growing up in a caravan while the family built their house.  Eleanor and Christian’s creativity is boundless – they are bursting with ideas as they bring us the feeling and the enchantment of those evenings with their friends, just scaled up (and they have a large inflatable screen now!)

The season starts this May Bank Holiday (4-6 May) with a Fantasy and Fairytale Weekend at Manor Farm Bourn.  Other venues this year include Madingley Hall, The Doubletree Hilton and The Cambridge American Cemetery.  Star & Mouse will be screening a mix of new films and classics that people want to see again and again.  Unbelievably, this year it’s the 40th anniversary of “Grease”, so on 29 July you can reconnect with Sandy and Danny at Manor Farm Bourn, which will be set up as a drive in movie theatre.  Another highlight will be the River Cam Film Festival (16-19 August) for which Star & Mouse have their own private venue, a little island in The Cam – you get there by punt!

Star & Mouse firepit
Image credit:  The Star & Mouse Picture Show

Whatever you book for, make sure you get there early as the film, screened at nightfall, is just part of the evening.  There’s always plenty of live entertainment, themed to the film.  Catering will be taken care of by popular local food trucks this year and the eco-friendly bar will keep you refreshed.  They’re using proper wine glasses, napkins and plates while cups will be made of biodegradable plant based plastics.  As darkness falls, park yourself in a deckchair, put on your wireless headphones, relax and enjoy the screening.

casino royale playing
Image credit:  Gareth Nunns

Once autumn sets in, Star & Mouse move indoors to the magnificent Saloon Room at Madingley Hall, which they transform into an indoor cinema, custom decorated and lit, with big wing chairs for seating.  There’ll be a Halloween film show and in December, they’ll screen Christmas films.  Eleanor and Christian really do go to great lengths to create a very special experience.  “Last December, we showed “Narnia” in an old barn,” Eleanor tells me.  “We transformed it into a magical pine forest and it took us 72 hours!  But it was worth it to see the wonder on people’s faces when they walked in.”

So let’s keep our fingers crossed for balmy summer nights!  For full details of this season’s programme, to read more of Eleanor and Christian’s story and to book tickets in advance (strongly recommended), just check out the Star & Mouse website.

http://www.starandmouse.com

 

Slow Food Cambridge

One of the many things I love about Cambridge is the food!  From street food in the market to fine dining and everything in between, this city has so much to offer.  And now, Slow Food Anglia is hoping to establish a Slow Food Cambridge group.  At a gathering in Thirsty on Chesterton Road last week, they spoke about their ethos and shared their thoughts on how the group might work here.

Slow Food UK logo
Image credit: Slow Food UK

The Slow Food movement was set up in Italy in 1986 by Carlo Petrini to promote local food, food producers and traditional cooking.  It encourages us to think about the sustainability and traceability of our food, as well as reducing food miles by buying seasonal local produce.  Slow Food has also developed the “Ark of Taste”, designed to preserve heritage foods which are in danger of being lost.  In the UK, these foods include Colchester Native oysters, Dorset Blue Vinney cheese and Jersey Royal potatoes.

The Slow Food Anglia group has run events very successfully in Norfolk.  The plan for Slow Food Cambridge would be to run an event in the city later this year, at Harvest Festival time, culminating in a feast, a communal meal with everybody coming together to celebrate local food and community.

Camcattle on Midsummer Common Cambridge
Camcattle grazing happily on Midsummer Common

Of course, there are many fabulous food enterprises already happening in the city and Slow Food Cambridge plans to work in tandem with them.  But it needs a group of people to get this enterprise off the ground.  Do you care about your food, where it comes from and what you do with it?  Do you have skills that could help get a group up and running?  If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes!”, please get in touch with your thoughts and ideas.  Just leave a comment on this post or get in touch via my Contact page and I’ll feed back (pardon the pun!) to Slow Food Anglia.

http://www.slowfoodanglia.org

http://www.slowfood.org.uk

What’s on in April

Well, March is drawing to a grey and damp close here in Cambridge and it feels like it’s been a very long Winter indeed but let’s be hopeful that warm Spring sunshine is just around the corner.  Here’s the what’s on listing for April.  It’s an eclectic mix of events that come to my attention so if you know about an event that could be included, please get in touch through my Contact page.  I’ll update this listing through the month, so do check back when you can.

Railings at St Bene't's Church, Cambridge
Railings at St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge

1 – 18th    9am – 5pm  “In a Room of One’s Own”, an exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Woodcut Prints.  Nan Shiomi.  Clare Hall, Herschel Road, CB3

1 – 21st    8am – 5pm Monday – Saturday.  Kaleidescope, an exhibition of original Textile Art.  Free entry.  Michaelhouse Centre, Trinity Street  http://www.easternregiontextileforum.co.uk

2nd    5.30pm  Organ Recital.  William Whitehead.  Parry, Schumann, Liszt, Bach, Jackson and Planyavsky.  King’s College Chapel.  Tickets from King’s College Visitor Centre, King’s Parade

3 – 7th    7pm  Rodelinda.  Cambridge Handel Opera Company.  The Great Hall, The Leys School.  http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/tickets/events/rodelinda

6th    7.30pm  A celebration of Georgian song.  Members of Ialoni women’s ensemble from Tbilisi with Chela and Buska.  Little St. Mary’s Church.  Free entry

7th    7.30pm  Cambridge Choral Society.  Dvorak and Puccini.  West Road Concert Hall.  Tickets on the door  http://www.cambchoral.org.uk

8th    1 – 4pm  Trinity College Fellows’ Garden open under the National Garden Scheme http://www.ngs.org.uk

8th    2.30pm  Shelly Organ (bassoon) and Tim Watts (piano).  Programme includes music by Saint Saens.  Madingley Hall.  Free admission.  http://www.eventbrite.co.uk

12 and 14th    7.30pm  “I deserve a better chance”, a brave production by people with and without mental health challenges.  CB2 Cafe, CB1  http://www.actingnow.co.uk

13 – 15th    Cambridge Literary Festival  http://www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

14th    7.30pm  Best of British.  Cambridge Wind Band.  West Road Concert Hall    Facebook: cambridgewindband  http://www.adctheatre.com

14 – 21st    10am – 5.30pm  Art Exhibition, Cambridge Drawing Society.  Paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture.  The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street.  Free admission  http://www.cambridgedrawingsociety.org

14th    7.30pm  Pentecost in Rome.  De Profundis.  Palestrina and Victoria.  Chapel of Sidney Sussex College.  Tickets on the door

18th    6.30 – 9pm  Cam Lates: Fashion at the Fitzwilliam.  Fitzwilliam Museum  https://www.museums.cam.ac.uk/whats-on/cam-lates

18th    8pm  Endelienta Baroque.  Bach cantatas.  Chapel of Jesus College.  Free entry

20th    7.30pm  Ivor Jones Memorial Concert.  Harp and organ.  Wesley Church, Christ’s Pieces  https://ivorjonesconcert.eventbrite.co.uk

21st    6.30pm  David Wright, harpsichord.  Bach’s Goldberg Variations.  Gonville & Caius College.  Tickets on the door.  http://www.neweurope.org.uk

22nd    2.30pm  Cerys Purser (mezzo-soprano) and Tim Watts (piano).  Programme includes music by Watts and Berio.  Free admission.  Madingley Hall  http://www.eventbrite.co.uk

Easter tree

 

Restaurant Twenty-Two Cambridge

Sam Carter and Alexandra Olivier are partners in life and business who’ve just realised a long held ambition to open a restaurant of their own.  Chef Sam is in charge of the kitchen while Alex takes care of front of house and they both bring many years of experience at leading dining establishments to their new venture.

Restaurant Twenty-Two sign

Restaurant Twenty-Two windowThey’ve spent the past couple of months refurbishing this twenty two cover restaurant in Chesterton Road into a sophisticated and restful space, decorated in tones of grey with flickering tea lights and simple flowers on each table.  Upstairs, there’s a cosy private dining room which seats fourteen people.  Sam and his team serve a seven and a five course tasting menu, alongside an a la carte option and there’s a set lunch menu too.

My husband, Johnny, and I were lucky enough to bag a table for the restaurant’s soft opening at which they served their 7 Course Tasting Menu.  It wasn’t long before I decided that this is a great way to eat … no indecisive scanning of menus, no food envy, just people bringing you plate after plate of fabulous food!  Sam’s style is creative modern British food with a twist, using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers.  But it’s not just the flavours that Sam creates (always delectable) or the presentation of his dishes (always immaculate, as you can see from the photos through this post), it’s also the textures in each plate of his food which constantly surprise and excite.

Every course was wonderful but highlight dishes for me included

….  blow torched mackerel, the rich, oily fish perfectly paired with tangy buttermilk, wafer thin disks of stripey pickled beetroot, dotted with dill oil

Restaurant Twenty-Two mackerel

….  a meltingly tender piece of braised lamb shoulder, almost like a confit, with sheep’s yoghurt, velvety carrot puree, tiny cubes of punchy mint jelly, topped with crispy carrot

Restaurant Twenty-Two lamb

….  rich, sweet, malty Guinness bread served with light whipped Guinness butter

Restaurant Twenty-Two Guinness bread

….  the bright flavours of the palate cleansing pre-dessert, a lime and yoghurt panna cotta topped with a Yorkshire rhubarb jelly, hibiscus and refreshing cucumber sorbet

Restaurant Twenty-Two pre dessert

Sommelier Dan Smith is creating a really interesting wine list full of unusual finds.  Johnny decided to go with Dan’s recommendations for the wine flight matched to the menu and was happy to discover new pairings, including

….  Dafni, a dry herbaceous white wine from Crete, with the mackerel

….  Tio Diego, a deep amber, bone dry amontillado sherry with the lamb

….  Le Barral, Rivesaltes Ambre, a sweet fortified wine from the South of France which was an excellent match for the chocolate, peanut and salted caramel dessert.

By the end of the evening, we were feeling pretty full (understatement!) but we squeezed in a Hot Numbers coffee for him and a green tea from The Kandula Tea Company for me, along with homemade whisky truffles and smooth vanilla fudge dotted with a sharp lemon sauce … Sam had our taste buds dancing until the very last bite.

Restaurant Twenty-Two petits fours

As we tottered home, we agreed that we’re extremely lucky to have such exciting and superb cooking happening pretty much on our doorstep.  Sam, Alex and their team have all the enthusiasm, skill and passion to make a huge success of Restaurant Twenty-Two and I have no doubt they will do just that.  I only hope we can still get a table once the word gets out!

http://www.restaurant22.co.uk

22 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 3AX

Sam and Alex kindly invited me to join them at their opening party.  The following evening, we ate and drank at Restaurant Twenty-Two at our own expense.

Artsfest 2018

Artsfest 2018 returns to St Paul’s Church on Hills Road from 26 – 31 March, celebrating creativity and culture with events and activities for all ages throughout the week, based around the theme of “Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained”.

Artsfest 2018 poster
Image credit:  Artsfest 2018

The Festival has been organised by Martin and Julia Evans with Kip and Jane Gresham.  They’re building on the foundations of the very successful inaugural Artsfest held in 2016 and they firmly believe that people can flourish when they have the chance to be creative.

Artfest 18 workshop
Image credit: Artsfest 2018

There’s a packed schedule through the week, whether you want to be hands on or prefer to watch and listen.  Daytime workshops for adults include printmaking, creative writing, drawing and painting and there’s a daily after school art workshop for children while a drop in embroidery group will stitch through each day.  Anyone can share in the daily lunchtime and evening meals; indeed, the cafe is at the heart of the Festival, offering a place for everyone to meet, talk and share experiences.

A range of talks includes print maker Kip Gresham who will look at the way artists make their work and Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and now Master of Magdalene College, who will explore the theme of hope and loss through poetry.

Artsfest 2018 music
Image credit: Artsfest 2018

Evening events include a performance from local performing arts college Bodywork Company Cambridge, a jazz concert and the world premiere of an opera based on John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” with leading counter tenor Lawrence Zazzo.  On the final day of the Festival, there’ll be a Scratch “Messiah” in which everybody is welcome to take part, whether as a singer, an orchestra musician or an audience member.

Artsfest 2018 St Paul's, Hills Road
Image credit: Artsfest 2018

St Paul’s is an Anglican church and community centre.  Its motto is “All are welcome, all are safe” and its doors are open every day to welcome everybody, whether they have a faith or not.  “We want to bring people together,” Martin tells me, “and we believe that in creating a positive community we can help to combat the loneliness felt by so many.”  Around two thousand people use the building each week, either to attend the daily service, to join in with one of the many classes (think yoga, lindy hop, salsa and more) or simply to sit quietly in the foyer.

You’ll find full details of all the Artsfest 2018 events on their website.  Most workshops and all the exhibitions, talks and lunchtime concerts are free, although voluntary donations are always welcome.  Evening events cost £7.50 per head.  For logistical purposes, workshop places need to be booked in advance through the website.  Finally, please email juliaevans51@hotmail.co.uk if you’d like to get involved as a volunteer and help to run this wonderful celebration of culture and creativity.

http://www.stpaulsartsfest.org

http://www.stpaulscambridge.org.uk/

Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP

 

The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

The start of my day was somewhat more glamorous than usual today … The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie kindly invited me to a bloggers’ breakfast.  This was exciting on two counts.  Firstly, I’ve been watching the restaurant take shape and looking forward to stepping inside on opening day and tasting their food.  And secondly, it was lovely to meet some other local bloggers (blogging at your kitchen table being quite a solitary pursuit!).

Ivy frontage

The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie is a really chic addition to the city’s restaurant scene.  It’s bright and colourful with emerald green, mustard yellow and burnt orange velvet furnishings complementing the vivid wall to wall artwork.  With its art deco style lighting and beautiful plants and flowers, this feels like a place to linger.

Ivy seating colours

Ivy entrance

And you can linger as The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie offers dining through the day from breakfast to dinner, serving British food including Ivy classics like their famous Shepherd’s Pie.  Or you can just come for a drink, maybe enjoy a cocktail, at the well stocked bar where the white jacketed bartenders and acres of sparkling glassware amp up the wow factor.

Ivy bartender

So, what did we eat?  Well, our menu offered delectable pastries alongside freshly pressed juices and I enjoyed a pot of really good Darjeeling tea.

Ivy pastries

Then on to Eggs Royale with smoked salmon and two perfectly poached hen’s eggs on a toasted English muffin with a creamy yet tangy hollandaise sauce.  Other dishes at my table included avocado, roast plum tomatoes and poached eggs on toasted granary bread with a sesame dressing and a stack of hot buttermilk pancakes with berries, yoghurt, lemon balm and a warm strawberry sauce.  The presentation of each dish was impeccable as was the discreet yet efficient service.

Ivy eggs

There’s also The Boat Room, a really beautiful private dining room downstairs which would be the perfect space for a private party or corporate event.  This room seats sixteen people on one long table or holds forty guests for a stand up reception and has its own seasonal menus for lunch and dinner with breakfast and canape menus too.

Ivy private room

When you’re planning to visit, it would be wise to book a table in advance as I reckon this place will be very popular indeed but they do hold a number of tables each day for people who don’t have reservations.  For myself, I’m looking forward already to returning with friends and family who, I’m sure, will enjoy The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie’s vibe as much as I do.

http://www.theivycambridgebrasserie.com

16 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1TB

Cambridge Growing Spaces

Growing Spaces is a wonderful project which creates, plants and maintains edible gardens in the city which can be harvested by anybody …. anybody at all and the food is free!

GS veg bed
Image credit:  Growing Spaces

The Growing Spaces team, run by Sandra Cortijo, plants these gardens in unloved and underused public spaces in Cambridge (having first received permission from the landowner!).  There are currently six gardens dotted around the city – you can check out their locations on the website.  “Each garden has its own story,” Sandra tells me.  “They’re generally not high maintenance but they are regularly checked, so they’re kept healthy and tidy.”

 

GS raised beds
Image credit:  Growing Spaces

If a volunteer can commit to giving some extra care during a growing season, the group will plant vegetables such as tomatoes, courgettes and beans.  If not, they’ll plant herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme alongside fruit bushes.

GS herbs
Image credit:  Growing Spaces
GS blackcurrants
Image credit: Growing Spaces

Growing Spaces gardens for and with the community.  Volunteers supply seedlings and nurseries often donate plants while YMCA volunteers build frames for the raised beds.  The team installs, fills and plants these tall raised beds on the same day.  To make sure that their edible gardens thrive, they have perfected the “lasagna method” of filling the beds with layers of cardboard, branches, hay, paper, soil, dried leaves, grass cuttings and mulch.  This creates a nutrient rich permaculture that decomposes over time and needs less watering.  You’ll find full details of this “lasagna method” on the Growing Spaces website under the “Resources” tab.

GS swap and share stall
Image credit: Growing Spaces

The group organises cycle tours of its gardens, so people can see what’s growing and where.  It also has a free gardening club where people of all ages get together to grow their own vegetables and herbs.   The team runs a fresh produce swap and share stall at events like the Pumpkin Festival, giving everybody a chance to share their excess allotment or garden produce or just to come and choose some fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs for free.

 

Growing Spaces is part of Transition Cambridge, an organisation which “aims to help the city make the transition to ways of life that are more resilient in the face of rising energy prices and a changing climate”.  A grant from the Council got the Growing Spaces group started and Sandra got involved in 2013.  Growing up, Sandra had always gardened with her mother and grandparents at home in France but had then stopped.  “I relearned gardening with this group,” Sandra says “and really, no knowledge is necessary.  We try things out and see what works best.”

If you’d like to volunteer to plan and plant with the team or if you know of a space in the city that needs care, just email Sandra through the Growing Spaces website.

http://www.cambridge.growingspaces.org

http://www.transitioncambridge.org