Martinis, scarves, and The Scottish Play

Hello chaps and chapesses. Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend so far! I’ve had a rather busy one, but luckily I’ve got a free Sunday. A free Sunday to catch up on work, that is! And I may also be trying out the white chocolate, passion fruit and coconut cake that featured on earlier this week. Yummykins.

New feature! Seeing as I’ve got so many events coming up, I’ve created a new ‘Girl About Town’ menu tab at the top, just because it’ll be easier to store them in one place. So this is what I got up to:

Martini Masterclass at Hotel Du Vin On Friday night, I touched down at Hotel Du Vin in Tunbridge Wells with my lovely editor and chum Rachel, and her friend Becky. Now, I actually violently dislike martinis. I’d always found them much too strong, and the only ones I can drink can be found at the Cellar Door in London, because they make yummy versions like cucumber martinis, or ‘breakfast’ martinis with marmalade in. I was hoping that, by going to this event, I’d gain a new found appreciation for the cocktail. As it was a ‘masterclass’, I assumed we’d be guided through the ways to create our own perfect/signature martini. I was looking forward to impressing my friends.

Well, I think I estimated it a little bit wrong. It was held in one of the beautiful back rooms of the hotel, which, as Becky and Rachel said, felt like ‘a Russian ballroom’. We were given several sheets of info (sadly not proof-read. Wish I could turn off my writerly brain in my free time, but I can’t.) We also had three glasses: one vodka, one vermouth, one gin, and a jug of water. The sheets of information had a lot of tasting notes for different gins and vodkas at the back, which is where I started to get excited. I love to try new types; Ketel One and Hangar One vodkas are usually my favourite, but I’m always up for trying new things. Drinks-wise. Ahem.

I assumed that, because we had the tasting notes, we’d be allowed to choose which vodka or gin we liked the sound of best as a base for our martini, and then we’d learn what would go well with the notes in that particular spirit. We were talked through the history of the martini by a man who I think was called Marco – I missed the very beginning. He was a very nice chap, but whizzed through all the info extremely quickly. I was frantically trying to scribble it down: ‘right, so if I shake the martini, it adds oxygen, which makes it…sweeter? Or…what??’ I got a little bit lost. To be fair, I didn’t really need to write it all down, but I wanted to. We were given a dirty martini to try, and I realised very quickly that I wasn’t adept at drinking the things. I was wincing quite a lot. We also had a few canapes passed around, but being a vegetarian, there was nothing I could eat apart from the sweet ones that came out at the end.

I’d also assumed (and when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, as we all know) we’d be set up on tables with ingredients. Instead, everything was at the very front of the room, by Marco. At the end of the talk, we could all go up and try making our own martini. I’d been dreaming of creating an elderflower and cucumber version, but we had limited supplies. One gin, one vodka, Martini, Martini Rosso, peach liqueur, raspberry liqueur, Midori, blue curacao, olives, lemons. Becky and Rachel decided to try mixing raspberry with gin, and adding lemon. It was more palatable for me than the dirty martini, but ultimately I still didn’t have more than a few sips.

So it wasn’t entirely what I’d hoped for. But I have to be fair on HDV: I went knowing that I didn’t like the cocktails that much, which was probably a silly idea. I’d also built up expectations of the evening in my head, which was again unfair. Oh, and I’d been to an excellent wine tasting event at the Tate the week before, which I blogged about on here. I must mention one more thing. The NOISE. At the back of the room were some extremely rude and noisy people, which put me in something of a bad mood from the start. It’s unbelievably rude to hold a conversation at a normal volume while someone is trying to speak. Arrogant and cocky, and despite many people turning around to give them glacial stares, they didn’t stop. Maybe try a bar next time, chaps?

So, not a roaring success for me. They mentioned there might be a Mojito Masterclass in June, which I’d probably like a lot more. That said, tickets for this event were £20. That’s a little steep when you can only eat one canape, and when you can only manage a few sips of your drink (but again, the latter comment is about me, not HDV). The wine tasting at the Tate was £15, and we had heaps of food, a glass of Prosecco on entry, and about 12 different wines to try. On the plus side, the staff at HDV were charming, the man leading the masterclass was sweet and engaging, and HDV is absolutely gorgeous to look at. I’d say save the £20 from the workshop, and go and spend it in the Hotel Du Vin bar instead. Or better yet, put it towards supper.

What I wore - sorry for the grumpy face

Scarf Photoshoot Rachel and I met again on Saturday morning – luckily neither of us was hungover from the previous night of drinking! We were joining forces with wonderful scarf designer Kate Hasted ( to style out some different scarfy looks for Rachel’s gig on Rachel wanted to come up with some different ways of wearing scarves, and who better than Kate to provide them? Kate makes absolutely gorgeous pieces, and we worked with her Spring/Summer collection. Pastel shades, soft as a cloud, printed on silk and hand-marbled.

And I got to do the modelling! I actually sort of hate having my photo taken. I only like it if I can control it and see exactly what’s going on. But Rachel did an amazing job. She put me at ease, gave great direction, and was very encouraging. Although we did have one or two ‘move to the left. Your left. No, my left. No, my right!’ moments! We did a lot of laughing, a lot of listening to bizarro music, and ultimately, we had a great time. Thanks very much to Paul of who set us on the right path! Strongly recommended as a venue if you need to do any shoots. Paul helped us hugely with the lighting and even our camera settings. Think Rachel and I will be paying him a visit for photography lessons, as we’re both self confessed ‘for god’s sake leave it on the automatic setting!!!!!’ girls.

The Scottish Play Very quickly rounding this up, as I can see my word count growing exponentially and you’ve probably all stopped reading already! Anywho, straight after my photoshoot I hopped on a train to Carshalton to see The Scottish Play, directed by my chum Paul. I genuinely can’t bring myself to say Ma***th. Once a superstitious actor, always a superstitious actor. He’d transposed it all to a modern setting, aligning it against the violence and insanity of the rioting last year. Seeing Shakespeare done in a chavvy setting is always fascinating, and it was a bold choice and an excellent Shakespearean directorial debut.

That’s me done! Got a crazy busy week next week but I’ll see you back here when I can. Thanks for reading 🙂 xx

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