Bumpkin Mag

- May 9 -

Prince of Persia premier was amazing. We got to meet Jake :)

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Country Invasion: When Young People Escape the City

- May 5 -

Bumpkin discovers a new generation of young professionals hoping to make it big in the country.

Harriet and Polly at their studio

Picture: Harriet and Polly at their studio

 It comes as no surprise that more and more young Brits opt to live in rural areas. The countryside offers plenty almost untouched innovative space that can be developed cheaply and used as offices. Polly Wilkinson and Harriet Barford joint owners of their young fashion label Draw in Light, design from their studio in Danehill in Sussex, “As it’s inspiring. Overlooking the Sussex Downs the natural light is beautiful with the added bonus of being able to walk out into natural beauty. Financially there is no lack of space, where as in London space is money.”

City dwellers are always praised for their individualism and creative flair, but with so many people cramped into one place, it can be can difficult for talent to shine through from the crowd and be more than just a one hit wonder. Once a part of the city, it will eat your heart and brain; drain your already low energy levels during morning rush hour while sandwiched in-between two greasy and sweaty night workers; and before you know it, you are nothing more than a ordinary cyborg clone trapped in the system like everyone else. To the city you are nothing more than a hamster in its cage.

A statement photography artist Sofia Barnett-King strongly agrees with: “Taking images, and being part of urban areas does get fairly boring after a while, somebody else has already captured everything previously. Visual identities are not created, but merely reproduced.” That’s probably the reason why she packed her bags and moved from London to picture-perfect Devon: “The countryside offers a larger spectrum to be creative in. I enjoy photographing natural life and ‘real’ people living in a ‘real’ environment surrounded by nothing but beauty.”

Since her arrival in Devon, Sofia has kept busy snapping images of the surrounding area in preparation for her first gallery opening. She explains, “It felt as if I was standing on the sidelines watching someone else’s dream become reality; everything happened so fast.” One minute she struggled to make ends meet in London living from tin food while unsuccessfully trying to make a living from her photography, the next she wakes up in countryside were people not only approach her to purchase her images, but also offer guidance and help.

Nevertheless Sofia denies this was due to luck, or in fact a Cinderella story: “Everything I have achieved up until this point is due to the sheer work and absolute dedication that I have put into photography. However people’s less packed schedules and open minds to different creative approaches in the country has definitely helped me to excel in my goals” She adds: “The country has opened doors for me that would have remained shut in London, but having my own exhibition would still not have been possible without constant chasing and the determination to make it happen. If you like, the country formed the missing ingredient to my success.”

Yet, no matter how much a person may love the countryside, sometimes work forces one back to the city. Take Christina Brown for example, owner and founder of Yours Smiles Ltd, who partially runs Wembley Stadium and is in the process of acquiring further stadium and arena contracts in and around London, would like, “Nothing more than to move back to the idyllic country home in Ireland.” Sadly a busy schedule that keeps her in London during the week, as well as some weekends meant Christina had to give up her house in Ireland in order to further her career. Keeping her hopes up, and true to her company’s motto, she smiles: “A postponed relocation doesn’t mean it will never happen – the first step now would be to acquire a holiday home.”

While some struggle to make ends meet in the country, others thrive and flourish. Successful wedding planner Feral Namik, a true London born and bred, moved just north of Grantham in Lincolnshire,  “I simply went where my clients wanted me and demand seemed to be higher further away from the city.” She continues: “In the country, people save money for years for their dream wedding. But in my experience people who live in city prefer a fuss free wedding which usually only includes a quick visit to the registry office.” According to a survey carried out by GMTV 80% of couples who chose to get married in the UK, usually do so in the confines of their local area. Feral isn’t convinced: “If a couple plans to have an elaborate wedding and have the budget to do so, the dream of a ceremony in the country tends to be their first choice.”

Now, if the countryside is used merely as some kind of blissful equilibrium, then its joys might be short lift. Imagine children begging excessively for that new toy and as soon as they receive it, they are already on to the next thing; suggesting the country could become somewhat of a bore especially for young people starting up a business.  Psychologist Raymond Altmann elaborates: “Let’s say the city resembles a cloudy day and the country a sunny one. Of course we are going to pick the sun. But soon enough people will get bored of the sun. They seek change and change is a constant and indeed very normal and desirable process in life.”

Daniel Johnson

Picture: Daniel Johnson

In order to maintain an interesting lifestyle it is vital to find the right balance. Some people like Daniel Johnson, a film director and writer, have done just that. Living “Kind of bang in the middle between London and Essex,” he enjoys the good life from both worlds: “The good thing is, if I want to go for a walk or seek inspiration, I get that from the countryside without having to go far. Having said that, I’m very much a town person; I like being busy.” And of course, the first place a director goes looking for a cast is London, or so we thought: “Wherever you are, there are always people passionate about doing projects. Working in the City can be really expensive, so a lot of productions are shot further out anyway.”

Expensive is the keyword here; wouldn’t everyone be living in the city or perhaps have two homes, if they had the sufficient funds in their wallet? There certainly isn’t a straightforward answer to this, but Daniel has his own response: “We are not meant to be on trains every day, fighting through crowds, working in offices nine till five. So there’s something great and refreshing about the freedom of the countryside.”

Polly and Harriet find themselves in the mist of the question too, as they have an additional studio in Waterloo and feel that, “Without the access to professional services that London provides, it would be difficult (not impossible) to run a Fashion business. London is a Fashion Capital after all.” They definitely make good use of both locations, by selling their collection at Liberty in London and running a monthly pop up store from their studio/barn in Danehill. Once again finding the right balance is key.

At this point it becomes apparent that many young entrepreneurs from creative or business backgrounds enjoy the juxtaposition of hard, grey pavements and calming, green leaves. There is no doubt that the countryside’s image of being portrayed as boring and dull is slowly being eradicated. Therefore it comes as a surprise that a job associated with the countryside faces a steady decline: farming. Although production is increasing only 535,000 farmers are currently being employed in agriculture compared to 541,000 in 2005.

After surfing the web it becomes obvious that there are plenty of opportunities available for young people to get involved in farming. Almost every single area boosts its own YFA – young farmers association. Intrigued by this it seemed a wise choice to be contacting almost every single one of those organisations. But it quickly became apparent that the Queen would be easier to interview: as even after posing as a youngster wishing to become a member no reply had been received. Certainly, if this is the attitude of the adults leading the field, then it should come as no surprise that younger generations take no interest to follow.

Talking to Sam King, a member of YFM reveals that their approach is somewhat outdated: “Yes, we do learn a lot and have fun while doing so. And yes, we have the choice to get involved in a lot of extra curriculum, but the atmosphere sometimes feels backwards.” He is referring to the discos organised for them. Nothing compared to the venues in Manchester and co., their club nights look either like birthday parties for six year olds or a gathering of pensioners. This is exactly the kind of scenario that schrecks so many youngsters away from the countryside.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. The country symbolizes a home for some, a sanctuary for many and place to relax for all.  Richard Smith, a freelance illustrator, happily returned home to Devon after experiencing city live while studying at University, “It’s a good experience but the countryside is where my heart is. I find it feeds into my work without me even knowing it.” Especially in one aspect, he made perfect sense: “ Cities obviously generate the most work for almost any kind of business. I think the location will matter less and less because of globalisation. Everybody is reachable as long as you have the Internet.”

 As kids so many of us country folks dreamed of a life in the city, while urban kids desired fresh air and large green spaces to frolic around in. No matter how you twist and turn things, at one point or another, most of us will have experienced the pleasures and disadvantages of both, country and city life. In the mean time be sure to stay connected.

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New Traditions

Most of us don’t stand a chance of ever winning a gold metal in mainstream sports. Hence why our true competitive side only emerges while yelling at a plasma screen when the wrong team scores. Yet British zeitgeist sees the appearance of new, not so traditional sports.

‘It is all about tradition,’ exclaims John Mounes; full time construction worker and part time horn dancer – yes, a horn dancer. If now one imagines grown men prancing around with massive reindeer antlers around their necks, then they are quite frankly… absolutely right. Certainly not short of tradition, the idyllic village of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire hosts this 800-year-old, in fact Britain’s oldest custom, annually in September. If wannabe Robin Hoods wearing grandpa’s knee-high woollen socks, with what must be dotted pyjama bottoms tucked into them, seems more like a nightmare which needs catapulting back to 1912, stay there and remain lost in time, then check out these ‘special’ adventures instead:

Lawn Mower Racing Championship

                   

Jenson Button’s racing shoes might not quite fit, his speed terrifies the living hell out of you, or you just can’t see the fun in strictly regulated motor sports: whatever the reason, lawn mower racing might just be the it-thing for you to do this summer. 

Take a lawn mower, remove the blades, start the engine and voila one is on the road to success, money and fame; if only they existed in this low commercial, yet adrenaline pumping sport. Bruce Kaufman the president of the Lawn Mower racing association adds: “It’s fun, affordable and feels just like running away to join the circus…at least for the weekend.”

At not even a fraction of a Formula 1 car, a slick race mower can cost anything from £300 to £2500 – depending on the price of the original mower and the extent of modification done to it. Staying clean should be avoided at any cost; other than that, just make it to finish line, somehow.

Paul Quickenden whose race-mower won the 2009 European Lawn Mower Championship provides newbies with a rather useful tip: “Winning mowers are engineered well. Keeping its weight down really helps. Also, you have to be a bit bonkers behind the wheel to get in front and stay there,” – will you be racing him next?

Visit: The 12 hour Lawn Racing Championship in Pulborough, West Sussex,  31st July 2010.

Don’t Forget: To wear water resistant clothes, unless you enjoy the feel of cold, slimy mud on your skin. 

Cheese Rolling

Cheese Rolling Competitors  

So dangerous, the government made it illegal. But naturally the forbidden, seems more tempting – search the Internet thoroughly enough and you are destined to find this years secret location.

Now what exactly is so dangerous about rolling cheese you may ask; take a hill, roll the cheese down it and let around 1500 people chase after it. What you witness is not Heidi frolicking around in the countryside, but a gruesome battle scene from an old WW2 movie where fake blood is replaced with real-life broken bones and graced knees and elbows. Naturally the gigantic reward is worth the pain: a luxury holiday for two..uhm…no, of course not. In this case the phrase ‘finders keepers’ is far more appropriate than ‘the winner takes it all’ – the person who finishes the race clutching on to the cheese simply gets to take the cheese home; everyone else goes home empty handed. Insert hospital bill here. 

Visit: The event is held annually in March at Cooper’s Hill Gloucester. New locations to be announced shortly.

Don’t Forget: There will be no public toilets at the event, so ladies beware.

Global Activities:

Snowflake Beer Cup Wife Carrying Competition in Shenyang, China.

Contestants Carrying their Wife

Once upon a time there were the Chinese, with one of the strictest governing regimes in the world, a regime so protective of its peoples wellbeing, it even banned the social networking website facebook; in fact it even put a limit on the amount of offspring the citizens were allowed to produce. Yet once a year they embark on a journey, a journey more dangerous and more challenging than any Jacky Chan movie ever made  - men carrying their wives.

While the wife hangs on somehow (if that’s not love then what is?), her husband has to whisk through a range of army style obstacles. The winning pair then receives the wives body weight in beer. In Britain this would be called having a laugh, but in China of course, it’s a sport. Now all they need is facebook to create a group, sign a petition, present it to the government, make it an Olympic discipline and they could also be drinking earl grey tea in 2012.

Visit: One of the 202 hospitals in Shenyang, if you should ‘accidentally’ drop your wife.

Don’t Forget: To bring a wife and beer in case you don’t win.

Zorbing, Almost Everywhere

Zorb Ball

As much as Lady Gaga loves her monster ball, she refuses to share it with her dedicated fans. Therefore interior designer and self proclaimed number one fan, Marcus Leimweg, took to a different kind of ball: the Zorb. He explains, “As much as I enjoy starring at images of Gaga and her ball, I felt the urge to express myself and try something exciting. That’s when I discovered Zorbing.”

The experience involves people climbing into an oversized and air-cushioned ball and then being pushed down a hill. If you ever wondered how your clothes felt inside a washing machine then this is your chance to find out.

For the more faint hearted, who want to stay fit and keep their stomach where it belongs, Zorbing now offers exercise classes; a refreshing alternative to indoor aerobics without the danger of getting someone else’s feet in your face.

Visit: Zorbing South in Dorset for the best Zorbing experience in the UK. Open from March until October.

Don’t Forget: To book online to avoid queuing on the day.

Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships, Finland

Mobile Phone

Throwing objects, especially mobile phones, in anger is no news, as Naomi Campbell has been demonstrating since 2000. Yet, depending on what, or more accurately whom it hits and what kind of damage it causes, this can turn out rather costly.

Therefore, coincidently or not, coinciding with Ms Campbell’s first ‘mobile throwing’ court case, the Finnish launched the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship.Anyone can participate and for the 10-euro entry fee the contestants can even leave those fancy Iphones securely tugged away in their pockets, as they get to pick a model from the officially certified phone range.

Mikko Lampi, who threw his phone 94,97 metres, may have remained unbeaten for 5 years, but if a certain super model was to participate, we all know, she would beat him with her eyes closes.

Visit: Next event is held on the 21st of August 2010 in Juva.

Don’t Forget: If you want to try this at home, make sure you are due for an upgrade.

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I Want That House

Pre-fabricated homes make house shopping almost as simple as buying a new outfit. Discover modern living that doesn’t leave a gigantic hole in your pocket.

Picture: Designed by Baufritz

Traditional building routes often start with ambiguous visions that may very well causeevery soon-to-be self constructed home owners heart to jump with joy in anticipation. However, certain aspects of these grand plans will slowly be eradicated in due process, until not much of the once original dream home vision will remain. These impediments, caused by construction restrictions or perhaps lack of finances often tend to end in a never-ending maze of plans, calculations and sadly, unpaid bills and debt. Factors as such, sadly scare people away from building their own houses and instead steers them directly towards the pre-build or the so-called ‘clone’ house market.

Yet, if driving a 4x4 in an area that is not quite right, while living in a house that doesn’t scream ‘forever’ isn’t ones vision of living happily ever after, then luckily there might still be hope to own the whole package without growing the first greys: in the form of Kit Homes. Now, trailer homes and garden sheds may spring to mind somewhat accurately, but at the same time couldn’t be further from the truth. Kit Homes have indeed come a long way since their first appearance on the market during the early 20th century.

“I inherited a small plot of land some time ago, as I neither had the funds nor the time to build a house from scratch, I was stuck on what to do with it,” explains Kyle Plumridge, a freelance interior designer from Exeter. After receiving various suggestions from his inner friendship circle he finally found a solution: “It was actually a friend of a friend who introduced me to pre-fabricated homes. Once he outlined its environmental friendly ad money saving features, he had me hooked and in a mere, hassle free six months I have become a proud home owner.”

As a money friendly option to traditionally built homes, they can be ordered in countless styles, anything from simple and classic to eccentric and modern. In recent years they have grown hugely in demand, not only because of their value for money, but mainly because companies have been able to offer wider design choices through advances in technology and are able to incorporate consumers individual ideas without the extra hassle. True to their name, Kit Homes, are pre made elsewhere and erected on the plot – a bit like Ikea just on grander scale and best left to professionals to assemble. The results speak for themselves: minimisation of waste and precision means that the house can be build in a record time of just under two weeks.

Although Canadian’s like to claim it as their invention, the prefab homes, as they are also commonly called, originate from Germany. That’s also where the strongest design teams are based today. Baufritz designs eco friendly kit homes that stand out as an emblem of modernity. Key features are the organic painted timber frames, high-tech insulation, energy consumption reduced to less than one sixth of the average UK home and the company’s original electrosomog protection to remove up to 99% of harmful radiation. Furthermore Baufritz offers to oversee the house building process from start to finish, leaving the customer to simply turn the key in the door once the house is completed. 


Picture: T-Com House by Weberhaus

Weberhaus is another German Kit Homes company enjoying major success in the UK.Both firms manufacture the materials in Germany that will then be shipped to their large clientele, based around Britain. They also pride themselves with great green credentials. Thermal properties make the conventional heating system a thing of the past, replacing it with solar power and internal heat gains from body heat and electrical appliances. This means they are cheaper to run and heat throughout summer and winter. Kit homes are also designed to withstand natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, making it a safe option and at the same time ideal for uneven and often challenging country locations.

For people in search of even edgier architectural styles have a look at the German architect team Collins and Turner, who are now based in Australia. Their buildings are made available through the Modern Modular company throughout the US and Canda, but can be delivered to the UK on special request. Compromising all the ecological features discussed previously, the structures seem to align more with nature giving it the outside-in feeling which is achieved through vastly open space living and enormous glass windows. Saying that, the interior is very simplistic, yet extremely sleek and edgy, creating a sharp contrast to nature.

If one seeks something completely different from the ordinary home, then the LoftCube designed by Werner Aisslinger might be of interest. Although it looks like a cross between a 1950s radio and an oversized dollhouse, it combines futuristic architecture and 360˚ panoramic views to introduce a virtually new way of living. The concept behind the idea introduces the LoftCube as a portable home that can be transported, preferably by helicopter, anywhere it’s needed. However at 40 sq. metres it will only destined to fly high as an office space or perhaps a holiday home. 

Prefer something a little more stable? Cloud 9, a UK based company offers just that. Not only local and therefore easier to follow up if something shouldn’t go to plan, Cloud 9 also offers the cheapest deal – buildings are obtainable from £90.000. Through a robust build with thick timber framing and somewhat fewer, but not light sacrificing, windows, their houses conveying a sense of privacy and security the others where lacking. Some designs may not even require planning permission, as they fall within the regulations of the Caravans Act 1998.

But as with all other houses, prefab homes can also be subject to lavish spending, depending on who designs them and the size required. Leo Marmol and Rod Radziner are to Kit Homes what Gorden Ramsey is to food – geniuses in the making. Even Tom Ford picked up on their creativity and attention to detail, and commissioned them to design not only one, but six houses to date. Features include recycled denim insulation, low VOC paint, and LED lighting. The interior persists of soothing walnut colouring and bamboo flooring for that extra touch of luxury.


Picture: LoftCube

It is clear that designers work hard to raise the popularity of Kit Homes and changetheir perception from trash to fab. Looking for faults when there are none is hard, if not impossible. Nevertheless, one aspect remains subject to improvement: all the houses look very sharp and edgy, if designers were to introduce a few more rounded options, then perhaps manufactured housing would gain a few additional fans. Other than that we merely need to wake up and embrace a new and improved way of living.

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Britain’s Most Beautiful Villages

London, Manchester and co. offer everything urban, vivid and wild, but sadly also a lot of pollution and headaches. As city life becomes ever more stressful, people seek a new life or simply a weekend gate-away in rural areas. The idyll of village life has always been deeply entrenched in the national psyche and is as much a part of our identity as afternoon tea and disappointing cricket results. Become part of this dream, by discovering Britain’s top five most beautiful and almost tourist free villages.


5. Cerne Abbas, Dorset

                  

Why go:

Exquisite. Charming. Beautiful. The Village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset around 7 miles from Dorchester has the right mixture of picturesque landscapes and gorgeous houses, without being sickly cute or screaming ‘grandparents’ out loud. Even if not hungry, visit the Royal Oak to take a mental picture of how every single British pub should look and feel like.

Must visit:

The Cerne Abbas Giant, one of the largest hill figures in Britain, is certainly worth a visit. The theories surrounding the symbol are almost as colourful as its nearby village - one associating the naked chalk man with the Roman God Hercules who is often pictured naked with a club in his right hand. If you find taking images of scenery a bore, its enormous phallus is guaranteed to inspire some raunchy snapshots, or at least a few innocent giggles.

If you would like to learn more about the giant, including how to get there visit this website:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-chl/w-countryside_environment/w-archaeology/w-archaeology-places_to_visit/w-archaeology-cerne_abbas_giant.htm

4. Weobley, Harefordshire

                  

Why go:

Tucked away on the boarders of Wales this black and white village with its crooked, yet charming timber-framed houses from the Tudor period offers a medieval ambiance. The rural atmosphere plays host to anyone who wishes to escape a hectic lifestyle. One of the most persuasive reasons to visit are the surrounding abundantly green woods and fields, which offer excellent opportunities for keen walkers.

Must try:

You can be sure of a warm welcome at the Salutation Inn, a key place for Weobley’s community, where local food, fine beers and good wines can be enjoyed in surroundings dating back to the 14th Century. The Sal’s, as locals call it, charm is conveyed through old beams, a small doorway, sloping floors and inglenook fireplaces. Accommodation rates are £45 for a double room with breakfast and £40 for single occupancy with breakfast.

Call this number to book your stay: 01544 318 443

3. Wanlockhead, Scotland

                 

 Why go:

The charismatic chalk white cottages lining the main street might lead onlookers to believe that Wanlockhead is a seaside village. Yet, anyone travelling up the steep hill to visit knows better: at 1531ft, Wanlockhead is actually the highest village Britain. So when the locals joke that they are looking down on their neighbours, then they are in fact, politically correct. From the early 19th century until 1934 the village thrived from the production of lead; today its inhabitants preserve what ones was, displaying for example an robust, and now almost ancient water-powered beam engine, used to unearth the lead, in their very own and prestige museum of lead mining.

Must try:

Although lead was its main source of income, the area has produced some of the world’s finest gold – so wholesome it was used to make the Scottish crown. Now, every year the village hosts the Gold panning championship, a fun and competitive activity for the entire family, and who knows, you might be walking away with buckets of gold. Dates: 29th – 30th May 2010

For further information have a look at this website:

http://www.leadminingmuseum.co.uk/Gold_Panning.htm

2. Clovelly, Devon

                               

Why go:

Delightfully easy on the eye even Charles Dickens eternalized the image of Clovelly in his novel A Message from the Sea. Through the voice of Captain Jorgan he beautifully captures the essence of the village in one sentence: ‘And a mighty sing’lar and pretty place it is, as ever I saw in all the days of my life!’ Indeed, look down from one end and you get a glimpse of the pristine working port and clear blue sea that besiege the village; look back up from the other and you cannot fail to be impressed by the splendour of the unspoiled whitewashed mid 19th century cottages covered in flowers. The Village, build into a cliff, offers no means of transportation other than donkeys, in order to move goods up the steep hill. So if you are steady on you feet, don’t miss the panoramic view from the look-out, which belongs to the British country idyll like afternoon tea with biscuits, topped with cream for that extra special indulgence.

Must visit:

Crazy Kate’s cottage, not only the oldest cottage in Clovelly, but also equipped with the most spectacular view. Not so thrilling however, is the sad love story behind the house: One day the former owner Kate Lyall had to witness her husband, a fisherman, drown by the harbour when a storm blew up. Having never recovered from the incident she drowned herself in 1736  - wearing her wedding dress in the hope of reunited with her husband once more…

The village offers a varied range of activities throughout the year. Keep up to date with the latest here:

http://clovelly.co.uk/events.php

1. Snowshill, Gloucestershire near Cotswold

                  Lavender Fields

Why go:

Snowshill is unmistakably the crème de la crème when it comes to British villages. One might recognise its scenery from the film Bridget Jones Diary, used for its exquisite landscape. And there is no question about why – virtually untouched since the Tudor period with strong architectural influences, it not only feels like a mysterious place stuck in time, but most importantly, it feels like home. Its large lavender field covers the entire village with a distinctively refreshing smell of flowers still wet from morning-dew and the nearby alpaca farm offers an interesting and somewhat entertaining twist to traditional village life. Even if one chooses to venture out a little further, the surrounding villages of Cotswold promise almost similar perfection.

Must visit:

Snowshill Manor, owned by the National Trust, houses its former owner’s, architect Charles Paget Wade’s, enormous and weird, but wonderful collection of around 22.000 artefacts, which he had accumulated during his travels. Apparently the objects are not the only things on display, as there have been several records of ghosts spooking visitors and locals alike, one rumoured to be Charles Paget Wade himself.

For opening times and prices check out the National Trust’s homepage:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-snowshillmanor

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Add Some Cheese to the Cake

Love cheesecake? Start baking this mouth-watering recipe stolen from Bumpkin’s very own nan.

Everyone knows it. Many love it: the cheesecake. It lures us into raptures of pleasure with its creamy light, sour-sweet filling. Whether it is going to be satiated with grapefruits, cherries, pears, kiwis, grapes, plums, apples or even mandarins, they will all form a delicious, almost heavenly, union of flavours with the basic ingredients of the cake. We prefer the finished product covered in either crispy crumbles, or beneath a thin layer of creamed egg, or even swathed in the most luxurious décor.

There is no doubt that the cakes popularity is of course down to exceptional succulent taste. However, that isn’t its only secret. The cheesecake is one of the few snacks that can be indulged without regret and also argue healthy eating in its favour. While milk, sweet quark, fresh low-fat cheese, fruity yoghurt and delicious cream promise scrumptious consumption and a general sense of well being, vitamins and minerals found in all milk products, can neither be seen nor tasted. Even an opulent cheesecake still features them in such a high amount that eating them should become compulsory for everyone, because quark, or curd cheese contain plenty of vitamins and iron.

Quark is quintessentially perishable milk that has been turned into a délicatesse through professional acidification. Although this may not sound very glamorous, its rich taste speaks for itself. So does the story behind it. Ancient myth has it that through eating quark one becomes incredibly strong. Therefore it was automatically associating with the Greek gods. According to Homer not only the Cyclops knew about its magic powers, but the residents of Olympus did so too. As described in the Odyssey, Aphrodite apparently fed the children of the gods with cheese, sweet red wine and delicious honey.

Guaranteed however is the fact that milk has already been available as a basic recipe tool since 4000BC; as Egyptians and Indians purposefully produced butter and cheese from it. And only 5000 years later the entire world already indulges in the pleasure of various cheese assortments. One thing is clear, throughout the centuries milk, quark, cheese and cream have not lost their appeal or popularity. In fact, mankind continued to unearth more and more delicious recipes, one of them, of course, the cheesecake.

The Spaniards enjoy theirs with apricots and almonds; in Finland people like to serve it with blackberry cream; Germany discovered the substantial double cheese-crumble cake and the nut pie with Philadelphia originated from America. However, Bumpkin’s favourite is the humble sea buckthorn cheesecake for its unusual mix of flavour and texture that reminds of a long walk in the forest on a warm and sunny summers day. But if we are being completely honest, we simply love it because its scrumptious taste easily outdoes the effort put into making it. Well, and because it was the only recipe that successfully mastered the transformation from a pile of ingredients into an actual cake, even after being subjected/exposed to our clumsy left hands.

Sea Buckthorn Cheesecake:

Pictured: Sea Buckthorn Cheese Cake

Dough:

3 egg yolk

125g sugar

3 tblsp warm water

175g whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

5 egg whites

Filling:

10 sheets white galantine

250g low-fat quark

300ml kow-fat yoghurt

100g sugar

150ml sea buckthorn juice

250ml cream

Decoration:

4 tbls oatmeal,

2 tsp grounded almonds

2 tblsp sugar

Instructions:

* Pre-heat oven

* Prepare the sponge cake by beating the egg yolk until a thick white bulk becomes visible. For better bonding, add the warm water. Gradually add the sugar, until its fully dissolved. Mix the flour and baking powder and then add it to the egg substance. Do not stir.

*Beat egg white until it’s very stiff. Divide into three equal portions and blend one after the other into the egg substance by gently shaking the bowl. Once again, do not stir.

 *Fill the dough into a spring form cake tin that has previously been fitted with baking paper and rubbed with butter. Otherwise the cake won’t rise evenly. Bake at 200 ºC for 30 minutes.

*Remove it from the form and place it upside-down on a cake grid. Don’t forget to tear off the baking paper. For best results leave to stand for a day before dividing the cake twice horizontally.

*For the filling soak the gelatine in 3 tblsp sea buckthorn juice. Mix the quark, yoghurt and the remaining sea buckthorn juice with the sugar. Heat the gelatine until it’s fully dissolved, then stir it into quark mix. Place it into the fridge to cool.

*Beat the cream and add to the quark just before the quark becomes firm. Taken one of the base from the day before and place it on a cake plate. Then cover equally in 1/3 of the quark mix. Take the second base, position it on top and press gently.

*Coat this base with another third of the quark mixture.

*Now put the third and final base on top and once again press gently and spread the rest of the quark mix evenly. Leave in the fridge to cool.

*Mix the oatmeal, sugar and almonds together and fry them in a pan until they are light brown. Leave to cool and decorate the care with them just before serving.

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The Wellington Boot Strides Again

British weather can be unpredictable at even the sunniest of times so a sound investment comes in the form of Wellington Boots.

They might not be to everyone’s taste or liking, but there is no denying it, when it comes to either fighting the rain whilst out shopping or frolicking around in puddles to succumb our inner child: Wellies are our best friends. Having recognized their potential, designers and fashions icons alike, have worked passionately to transform the once scrappy-farmer associated boots into a wardrobe staple once more.

Made famous by Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington who ordered a shoemaker to modernise the 18th-century Hessian boot, which then became the Wellington boot, remained fashionable throughout the 1840s. Their association with aristocracy made them an instant hit. In recent years, the queen of fashion, Kate Moss, herself adopted the rubber boots during festival season and it almost felt as if their fall from grace never occurred. Since then designers have worked feverishly to create new, innovative designs.

The boot is now produced in many different shapes and colours. If you are bored of Hunter, Britain’s leading Wellington brand, or simply seek something a little more exclusive but with the same feel of quality, then look no further. Luxury labels such as Burberry offer lavish styles; choose from a red or white quirky heart pattern layered on top of the classic Burberry print or the liquorish black patent crest boots –with or without golden chain embellishment that scream sophistication.

Elegance continues at Pour La Victorie with crystal-studded boots that only for true princesses. If you don’t like sparkle but wish to keep the glamour alive then the crisp white or black-heeled boots by Marc Jacobs might just be the thing for you. The 2.5-inch heel is just about high enough to make you stand out from the rest of the crowd   but wide enough for you to not sink and get stuck in muddy ground.

If however the pavement is your battleground, then opt for Prada’s lavish knee high Wellington boots. Their sky-high heels are ready for heavy duties and slippery missions while looking surprisingly refreshing, if not rather cool. Wear them with woolly socks or tights and oversized tunics or floaty trench coats to complete the look.

BUMPKINS FAVOURITE: Light-grey lace-up Wellington boots by See by Chloé with fluorescent-pink laces and rubber soles (pictured on the right). They not only look sweet and work fantastic with skinny jeans, but also don’t pretend to be something they are not.

AND FOR THE GUYS: Don’t experiment with a somewhat ambiguous array of colours, stick to one tone, without fancy designs, in order to avoid looking overtly feminine. 

See by Chloe Wellington Boots

Wellington Boots, See By Chloé.


Wellington Boots, Burberry. 

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Britain Please with Cream on Top

- May 3 -

Apart from eating cupcakes, do us Brits actually share a dream that really ‘unites’ us?


Miss Coventry Kirsty Logan

Picture: Miss Coventry 2010, Kirsty Logan, Centre

Kirsty Logan’s upbringing was in every aspect picture perfect; long, exciting walks through the countryside; jumping over logs; crossing over pack-horse bridges; riding her pony through streams; pressing flowers and busying herself with teddy bear picnics. She grew up to be the pretty sweetheart from next door and like most beautiful girls she started modelling at the age of 16 – while being under the loving supervision of her family and supported by friends goes, of course, without saying. Now, only 19, she won her first regional beauty pageant and is a favourite to win the nationals, with aspirations to one-day claim the Miss World crown: with or without world piece.

Up to this point, Kirsty could be from any city, in any country, from anywhere in the world – or perhaps, America. But the ideals of beauty have trickled across the pond, for the same reason the Germans stole Valentines Day: a crisis in national identity. It is true; only once the utterance, “I love England. I am so patriotic of my city and culture. Miss England would be the perfect job for me,” escapes her perfectly shaped and lip-gloss smooched lips, one can be entirely certain she is in fact a British born and bred.

Whether the Americans excessive emphasis on patriotism makes up for their lack of heritage and history is another question altogether, yet they managed to create an ideal many of their inhabitants thrive to achieve and makes them instantly recognisable to rest of the world. Of course, England has its Queen, afternoon tea, scotch eggs and well, chavs. But that’s not enough to form a ‘united’ identity as such, reflected through aspirations, goals or dreams. “Britain is at the verge of becoming a divided nation, where common desires are merely shaped by cultural interests such as fashion. All because society gradually looses faith in the crown and can no longer identify with what it stands for,” explains Psychologist David Rent.

Representation is indeed a major issue in multicultural UK, where 29% of the population is either black or Asian. Immigrants such as Jahimik Rachellchi from India, seeking British Citizenship probably consider its values more than actual Brits themselves. Dressed in colourful traditional robes, including turban and face paint, he looks as if he has never left India but nonetheless cares to share his opinion, talking in a strong and distinct accent he says: “English people don’t know how privileged they are; poverty is minimal, children go to school and everyone can have a roof over their head if they wanted to. Honestly, in my eyes living the dreams means receiving the gift of a good education.”

He pauses for minute and looks up into the sky, as if to question the validity of his own response, but then quickly adds: “The English care too much about money and their biggest concern is to have a nice car in their drive. Just like in America and any other European country really.”

Similarly Ryo Yamazaki came from Japan to study English and now wants to stay because he believes, “People feel free here, especially foreigners. It is a meeting point for all nationalities where we can learn to understand the diversity of cultures in the world. Therefore I don’t believe material goods are their primary concern, but a Brit does like to have a stack of cash in his pocket.”

Surprisingly both felt the need to enter the somewhat risky territory of money. Most foreigners, especially immigrants, seek a new life in the UK, because that’s exactly what their country is lacking or refuses to share with them. Therefore the suggestion that they have set foot on our beloved island purely because of its immaculate moral and ethical values seems a little far stretched. Surely actual British passport holders have a different spin on the matter.

“The dream is for cleaner and safer Britain; less criminals on the street will mean more security and ease for the population,” says Gary Burgess who besides working for an architectural firm is expecting his first child with his girlfriend shortly, which of course didn’t influence his answer the slightest. Nevertheless off to a good start, he then continues: “The dream for the individual would mean to be rich and have no money worries.” Ouch. Once again the pound rolls its way in to the discussion.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get anymore materialistic, Julia O’Connar, a typical English rose with a bob of ginger curls so perfect even prince Harry would be jealous, is determined to get her word in. Apart from wanting to be wag, she also takes the issue of Britishness to heart and explains its values enthusiastically: “People in England have a lot of different ambitions. One thing everyone has in common though is the desire for wealth and the indulgence of celebrity culture. I personally am very happy with my Links bracelet and already have three charms on it.” Her next goal is to save enough money to build a hot tub in her living room, probably so that she can invite her favourite soap stars from Hollyoaks over for a quicky.

At least Americans pretend to want ‘world peace’ and to put an ‘end to poverty’ over material goods. Does that mean us Brits are too honest or just downright clumsy? Do we actually want to be famous or do we just endorse in the whirlwind surrounding celebrities? Shows like Big Brother are currently being axed faster than the rain forest, due to low ratings. The odds are that quick money and stardom were just a phase like pointy bras in the 80s: both can be fun for a while and once they become a nuisance they will simply be snapped, or in this case turned off. 

Patricia Nicolas, a jewellery designer, originally from Spain came to the UK for exactly that reason. Although she was considerably famous back home due to her prominent family, she desired to peruse her passion for jewellery design in the realm of England in order to establish a name of her own. She elaborates: “In Spain people but you in a box and as at the time, I worked at a bank, I felt as if couldn’t develop my creativity. But now in Britain I am free to do as I please.” In regards to the British dream she adds: “I believe the British dream is a life in the countryside but people are surprisingly not patriotic like the Americans.”

Patricia Nicolas wearing jewellery from her 'boyfriend' collection

Picture: Patricia Nicolas

So much in fact that city life seems to be merging with the country, or at least from an invisible bond. Suddenly everyone features at least one utterly useless but amusingly colourful kitchen accessory from kitsch designer Cath Kidston in their homes and Chelsea’s farmer’s market has become the current ‘it’ place to be seen lunching in London. Apart from that, everyone who is anyone, or at least wants to be someone one day, is leaving overprized and often-overcrowded areas such as Mayfair, Chelsea and Notting Hill in favour for newly emerging local villages. Although according to local estate agent Mark Arber, “Those villages are nothing more than sub-areas created by estate agents to make such regions more appealing to buyers.” If that is case, well it certainly worked.

In addition to the already popular Greenwich Village in South East London, almost hidden between Kensington and Hammersmith in West London emerge the residential villages of Brackenbury and Brook Green. These areas have been subject to a steady rise in house prices in the last couple of years, as both boast a sense of community that is otherwise rare to find in London. Brook Green resident Anna Polenski elaborates why, while munching on a colourful fairy cake from the local bakery Gina’s Cakes: “I have lived in various places across London, but growing up in a more rural location, I felt as if something was missing. Brook Green offers what I had lost: a place where neighbours meet up and go for a drink together, but also leave you alone when you need to get on with work.”

Another resident, Marta Graham adds: “Everything I need is just around the corner. The whole village is beautiful; it feels like I have stepped out of London into the countryside.” But of course it helps if you, like Marta wake up to the view of your very own rooftop garden – the newest must have among Britain’s creative society. Expert gardener and landscaper Scott Santini estimates that the UK boasts, “More than a few thousand,” of these hidden gems. “Due to the lack of space, inner city residents choose to transform hard looking architectural structures into a green oasis. People are no longer prepared to either sacrifice having a garden or living in a dark, lower ground flats,” he explains.

Whether with or without a rooftop garden, the vast majority of Brits enjoy the pleasures of the countryside, even if it’s just for a weekend get-away. Yet, other people, like David Dent seem to think that bringing a bit of nature into city life will change nothing. In his opinion only the countryside inhabits the values of what it means to be British. David, an artist and designer who combines country elegance with urban attitude in his paintings and creations believes that, “Cities can dehumanise their inhabitants even, and perhaps especially with, new utility architecture and corporate interiors. Provincial cities have made their occupants prejudiced and parochial; and they have become ugly, often violent places.” He continues: “The city it has been replaced by something alien: global Americanised corporate culture.”

However David manages to juxtapose his answer by declaring his fondness of London: “If Americans want to call it Londonistan I am pleased because I think that shows its cosmopolitan nature. We can eat from any nation in the world and reject McDonalds; we can smoke shisha at Arabic cafes and enjoy entertainment from Ballet to Burlesque.”

His last statement summarises the public’s current mindset perfectly. Despite the desire of accumulating wealth and possessions still being high on everyone’s agenda, us Brits are ever so slowly in the process of becoming an urbanized society that expresses and combines both, the notions of modernism and the traditional. In other words, the British dream might be as diverse as a Rubik’s cube and very unlike and complex compared to other countries. Yet, in everything we do the power of individualism shines through, more so than anywhere else in the world. And isn’t individuality and distinctiveness that define Britishness anyway?

Perhaps us Brits simply can’t be put into a box like everyone else, because it would would burst, left, right and centre.

Surf 'n' Turf Painting by David Dent

Picture: Surf’n’Turf by Davide Dent 

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