Showing posts with label The Hummingbird Bakery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Hummingbird Bakery. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Queuing for a free Hummingbird Bakery cake

The queue of expectant customers snaked out of the shop, along the pavement and right round the corner. The occasion was the opening of The Hummingbird Bakery’s fifth London shop and they were giving free cupcakes to the first 1,000 customers to visit. News had spread fast via Twitter and Facebook and the mood was very party-like for a chilly Friday morning in January.

I had a meeting near Angel tube station so I jumped at the chance to line up in the sunshine and get my brilliantly named red velvet cupcake (plus buy three more for everyone at home – they’d be furious if I’d arrived back empty-handed). 
When I reached the front of the queue the staff were charm personified – and impressively smiley considering they’d been handing out cakes at the rate of knots. A couple of hours later the shop posted the following message on Facebook: "Islington, you managed to munch your way through 1,000 cupcakes in just over two hours! That's some incredible cupcake love."

Judging by the turnout, I’m not the only one partial to a freebie, especially in these bleak economic times. Actually, I’ve been really lucky this week. First my local cinema, the Phoenix Picturehouse, offered members the chance to see a free preview of Carnage, the new film starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet. Then my daughter, now a Friend of the Royal Academy (a great birthday present from my sister) sweetly took me to see the fabulous David Hockney exhibition as her guest. 

Like everyone I know, my wallet is stuffed full of bits of paper offering discounts and bargains. I’ve got a coupon from Marks & Spencer offering £5 off if I spend £25 by Tuesday and a £2.50 one from Tesco. The only voucher I’m mystified by is the Sainsbury’s Brand Match one promising me the princely sum of 7p off my next shop.  Still, as the Tesco’s saying goes, every little helps...
The Hummingbird Bakery, 405 St John Street, London EC1V 4AB

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A birthday lunch in Shoreditch

Twenty years ago today, at 9.44am precisely, our lovely daughter was born. It seems no time at all since we were driving to St Helier Hospital in the early hours of a frosty December morning. Our good friend Alex Lester played Cry Me a River on Radio 2 and we were in such a panic we couldn’t find the hospital’s maternity wing.

Now, in the blink of an eye, our daughter’s turned into a sophisticated student sharing a flat with friends and whizzing around London.

But despite the frenetic run-up to Christmas we always put everything on hold to mark her birthday in style.

Just two years ago, we celebrated her 18th in Oxford. We sat down to a fabulous lunch with family, friends and godparents and afterwards she blew out eighteen candles on her cake. And I’m afraid, like the proud mum I am, I reminisced embarrassingly about her childhood. About her jaunty hairbands and dresses from Du Pareil au Même (the most stylish and best-value children’s shop in France – I wish it would open here) and the afternoon she stomped home in a fury from her école maternelle in Orléans, saying “I’ve been there all day and I haven’t learned to speak French yet.”

Tonight, on her 20th birthday, her three flatmates are treating her to dinner and then she’s off out with friends from the bar where she works at weekends.

But I was thrilled that she wanted to celebrate with us lot too. So on Sunday morning we drove to east London, collected some fabulous birthday cupcakes from the Spitalfields branch of The Hummingbird Bakery and watched her open her presents. She reckoned Pizza East in Shoreditch would be the perfect place for a birthday lunch – so we booked a table by the window. A vast restaurant on the ground floor of the Tea Building, the food is delicious, the staff charming and the decor a vision to behold - all vintage furniture, exposed brickwork and distressed panelling.

In fact, if I lived in London, I’d like my flat to look exactly like Pizza East. And even better, my daughter would be just around the corner...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Annie Lennox at the V&A, The Hummingbird Bakery and ghosts that say "boo"

Goodness knows why, but I was once invited to be a guest on a local radio show. In amongst the chat about books, they played four of my favourite music tracks – like an inferior sort of Desert Island Discs, I suppose. Anyway, the first song I chose was the Annie Lennox number, No More I Love Yous, which I still adore.

The memory of sitting in that dungeon-like Leeds radio studio struck me forcibly this week when I went to the Annie Lennox exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The former Eurythmics star has helped to curate a collection of her work at the V&A – and it’s well worth a visit.

Over the years, Lennox has kept cuttings, ideas for lyrics, photographs and outfits galore, and loads of them are now on view at the exhibition. She’s always been feted for her bold, theatrical look and chameleon-like image so it’s fantastic to see some of her show-stopping costumes for real. Remember that amazing Union Jack suit she wore to the Brit Awards in 1999? It’s there, along with a stunning gold lamé corset and matching fingerless gloves she sported in the late 70s when she was lead singer of The Tourists, and many more.

Standing in the museum, with black and white videos of some of Lennox’s most famous performances playing on the screen above my head, I was impressed by how prolific she is. As well as her platinum discs, awards and humanitarian work, she’s even won an Oscar for best original song – for a track she wrote for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King with Fran Walsh and Howard Shore.

The best bit of the exhibition is a desk (below) showing snatches of Lennox’s work in progress. In amongst the pens, highlighters and scraps of paper, it’s inspiring to see notes of her most famous lyrics, all scrawled in capital letters. There are also a few of Lennox’s own books dotted around, an eclectic collection with The Art of Seduction alongside I Don’t Know She Does It, Allison Pearson’s novel about working mother Kate Reddy.

PS: For years, no trip to London has been complete without a trip to The Hummingbird Bakery. Everything about this bakery is gorgeous, from the exquisitely-decorated cakes to the chic pink and brown boxes they’re packaged in. With Halloween just around the corner, the South Kensington branch has excelled itself. The windows (above) are filled with cut-out paper pumpkins and the cakes come decorated with scary witches, broomsticks and ghosts that say "boo." I brought a spider's web cupcake home for my son and as you can imagine, it was gobbled up in double-quick time. The Hummingbird Bakery now has four shops - in Notting Hill, South Kensington, Soho and Spitalfields - and look out for their two gorgeous books too, The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Book and The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days.

The House of Annie Lennox is on at the V&A till February 26 next year (2012).
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