Make a cake

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

26 June 2013

I've just had an email from our Victorian expert, Nick Scahill. He writes...

Having been together as a couple for almost 37 years my wife and I are fast running out of novel gift ideas, so last Christmas I decided to ask for something completely mad and I requested an icing set. I'd always been first rate at devouring cakes but had never had crack at icing one; until, that is,  a few weeks back when a online cake competition caught my eye. Having spent months shut away in the kitchen cupboard, I duly released my pristine set from incarceration and set about weighing up my options and my ingredients.Spending at least 20 minutes working out how to assemble the icing bag was not exactly a promising start. In the hours that followed I managed to produce an edible lime and buttercream madeira   confection but by the end of the day had  ended up covering myself in nearly as much icing as my cake. An edible offering to the extraordinarily grand Imperial Hotel in Vienna it actually ended up winning first prize in the competition! I was amazed and delighted - and I cancelled my diet!

And here's the results of Nick's endeavours.

Nick's cake

This seemed good timing to remind you all about our Great Mini Bake Off competition, launched on our Juy issue. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you can create by way of mini treats. Find the details here

A visit to Hampton Court

Norman Rowlinson

Norman Rowlinson

25 June 2013

It has been over twenty years since I last visited Hampton Court Palace. So when my cousin, her daughter and grandchildren from Italy, were here for a week's holiday, we decided to go there for a day out. 

We were all given audio guides, which were easy to use and really useful when trying to find exactly which room we were in the Palace's labyrinth of corridors and staircases. Luckily the children's audio guides were available in Italian! I noticed there were alternative commentaries for children in each of the rooms.

We arrived just as a Tudor re-enactment started. Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Anne's brother and a lady in waiting all discussing the gift of a shirt from Henry's then wife Katherine of Aragon (although I think you'd find it hard to follow the dialogue If you were not up on your Tudor History!). But they, and a the trio of musicians in the great hall playing Tudor music with reproduction instruments, very much added to the ambience. I also noticed the fantastic Tudor heraldic beasts in the Chapel Court garden, all new since my last visit.

Going through to the part of the Palace designed by Sir Christopher Wren we took in an Exhibition called Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber (see the forthcoming August issue of The Dolls' House magazine for details). It was held in Queen Mary's apartments, and was a fascinating glimpse into court life in the 17-18th centuries.

Enjoyed watching a game of royal tennis, which seemed like lawn tennis and squash combined. After an ice cream it was off to the famous maze, which the children managed to find their way in and out in five minutes. Then having walked around the rose garden, knot garden and privy garden, home with aching feet and hungry children, that was enough for one day.

HC 1

The astronomical clock in clock court.


HC 2

Stained glass window in the great hall.


HC 3

Henry VIII venting his spleen.


HC 4

Anne Boleyn looking pensive.


HC 5

Tudor musicians in the great court.


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Heraldic beast in chapel court garden.


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Candied fruits and meringues in William III apartment.

Enter the great mini bake off!

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

24 June 2013

Today we received the first entry for our great mini bake off! The competition launched in our July issue, and you can also find all the details about it here:

The competition is a good chance to be creative, and to show off what you can do. There are three prizes to be won. The amazing first prize is a shop kit from Barbara's Mouldings - plus all the entries that we receive! So this competition is as big as you bake it!

Barbara's moulding kit

The second prize is Kim Saulter's lovely book - and a signed copy too. If you enjoyed our feature on her wonderful vintage kitchens, this will inspire you further.

Kim Saulter's book

And the third prize winner will receive this delightful 1:12 scale cake from Caroline McFarlane Watts of Hummingbird Miniatures. It's so carefully crafted - we love it!

Hummingbird Miniatures cake

The competition doesn't close until the end of July so you've got plenty of time to make that cake and send it in. In previous competitions some entrants have gone on to become regular contributors to The Dolls' House magazine. So why not show us what you can do?

Ardingly adventure

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

20 June 2013

On tuesday I went to the Ardingly Antiques Fair with our Victorian correspondent, Nick Scahill. I love the mix of genuine antiques and vintage replicas. There are of course always a lot of items that I would love to buy, if I had the money - and if I had the room to house them! The weather was unbelievably muggy with coudy skies but luckily no rain...many of the stands are outdoors, looking a little like a giant boot sale. Others were housed in the barns (this is also the showground for the South of England Show), where there is a pungent whiff of musty attics and animals, and sand and the odd piece of straw underfoot.

On previous visits I have seen lots of dolls' house but there were very few this time; a couple of triang houses sat rather forlornly under tressle tables. But then I spied this beauty! It is not so much a dolls' house, as a large storage cupboard given a dolls' house front. The shelves inside were too far apart I thought to properly work as dolls' house floors. It was as big as a wardrobe, but still a splendid piece of furniture. Again, you'd need the right space to accommodate such a giant.

Ardingly dolls' house

At Arindgly there are a few rows of tented stalls that are more like a marketplace, if you want vintage chic this is the place to buy it! Piles of leather suitcases rubbed shoulders with gilt mirrors, wooden shoe lasts, and stuffed foxes. At the back of one of the marquees I saw this dolls' house. The faded union jack flag made the vignette look very patriotic and like a remnant from the Queen's Jubilee celebrations. 

 Patriotic doll's house

Then around the corner I came across what appeared to me like a little Apline village. It was infact a group of bird houses, but arranged on the grass it was as if a town had sprung up over night.

Ardingly dove cots

These I think are modern dovecots just aged with paint to give them a lovely distressed patina, certainly an idea that could be applied to the conventional dolls' house. In fact back in 2001, I did just that, transforming a modern dolls' house kit into a replica antique one. It was one of my favourite dolls' houses at the time (lack of space unfortunately forced its departure). I have a photograph of it as it appeared on the front cover of The Dolls' House magazine for issue 43, right in front of me now. 
At Ardingly it is always the thrill of the chase, you never know what you are going to find. I came away empty handed this time (apart from the photographs) but I'll be keen to go again and see if I can find the dream property that I'm after.

Flowers in the aisle

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

17 June 2013

I popped in to see my mum at the weekend and she took me along to her local church to see the flower festival, which was being held as part of their 150th anniversary. All part of the fund raising activities, apparently it costs £2,000 a day running costs to keep the church going.  As a fan of BBC4s The Archers it was just like being in Ambridge, where the current talk is all about who is making what sort of arrangement there! At my mum's church, the various groups had all chosen significant events from the last 150 years, and represented it in their floral tribute.

The smell of the blooms was amazing, and with over 30 arrangements to look at, that wasn't suprising. Now flower arrnaging isn't an art that I have ever attempted - except in miniature. But the church displays were very imaginative. This one representing the opening of the first National Trust property immediately caught my eye. The Clergy House is not that far from us here in Lewes, and I know it well. I particularly like the way that the roof has been done with ears of wheat - fantastic thatching!

 Flower cottage

I also like the way that this display has captured the first rocket on the moon. There was an overhead arrangement elsewhere in the church that celebrated Halley's Comet!

 Flower space rocket

And this one was all about the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, now the last time that I saw this event celebrated it was in cake!

 150 underground

There were a lot of red, white and blue themed displays, with the 1951 exhibition, the cold winter of 1963 and the very hot summer of 1976, and The Red Cross, all represented.

The flower festival made me think that if you have a miniature church this would be a great way to combine it with some miniature flowers in an imaginative way - and maybe even more challenging than in real size.

Flowers in aisle

Finally, I took a quick snap of this painting, it shows the church interior as it was in Victorian times.

Church interior 

Art Deco day out

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

12 June 2013

Did you watch the latest Poirot drama on TV on sunday? Sadly this is going to be the last series with the wonderful David Suchet in the title role. I love the Art Deco look with its sleek lines and sophisticated style. Keen-eyed viewers will recognise various real-life Art Deco locations that have been used during the series, and we have one just along the coast from The Dolls' House magazine offices.

The Poirot episode Jewellery Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan was filmed at The Grand Ocean Hotel in Saltdean, on the eastern outskirts of Brighton, back in 1993. The hotel was transformed into the Grand Metropolitan for the purpose of the drama. Since then in real life the building (which opened in 1938) has become a Butlins, before its current re-incarnation; the Grand Ocean holiday apartments.



My colleagues on Knitting magazine did a fashion photo shoot yesterday at the amazing Art Deco building. Inside the foyer their Deputy Editor, Katy Evans admired the full miniature scale building of the site, and took some photos which I'm sharing with you. It must have been so impressive in its hey day!

Ar Deco2

ART Deco 3


Buy minis and support a hospice

Karen Bamford

Karen Bamford

11 June 2013

Dolls' house collectors and new enthusiasts alike are sure to have a great time at a fundraising fair in Somerset next month. The dolls' house and miniatures fair will be held at Ivel Barbarian Rugby Club, Dorchester Road, Yeovil, BA22 9TR, on Sunday 7 July from 10am to 4pm.

Refreshments will be available and funds will go to St Margaret's Hospice, which cares for those who have a terminal or life-limiting illness, such as cancer, motor neurone disease and chronic lung disease.

Entry: adult £3, OAPs £2.50 and children £1

For more details, tel 01935 429351

We're only human!

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

10 June 2013

I just want to point out that The Dolls' House magazine team is made up of thinking, feeling human beings. And like the rest of the human race, we sometimes make mistakes, although we try really hard not to. Despite checking and re-checking the pages of The Dolls' House magazine before it goes to press, sometimes mistakes happen. We're always mortified when we realise that an issue isn't perfect....and for that we apologise, most humbly.

Thankfully with this blog and our Facebook pages we can endeavour to get any corrections out to you as soon as possible. Thus anyone wanting to make the colourful cakestands from our current June issue will find the instructions here


Interest in Pinterest

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

5 June 2013

Many years ago I did a corresponent course on Interior Design. I got used to creating mood boards - pieces of mountboard covered in pictures cut from catalogues and magazines, and the odd fabric swatch. They would be on various subjects - different rooms, different styles, patterns, colours, all acting an an aide memoire for my next written assigment.

Now anyone with a computer can create a virtual mood board thanks to Pinterest. Here on The Dolls' House magazine we've been creating Pinterest Boards since the beginning of the year. They correspond to the themes for the various issues. You can see the latest one here:

Although the majority of the images are of real size homes and interiors it's relatively straightforward to take what you see and look for pieces to create a miniature equivalent. What is interesting too is that other people can re-pin the images that we have chosen to their own pinboards. This has led me to browsing some very evocative images; and I've enjoyed the sneak peek into other people's dreams! You find that some people wil have specific boards on dolls' houses and miniatures too.

The Pinterest boards are also a way of playing with ideas as well as helping decide on a future plan for a potential dolls' house. If you're stuck for inspiration ten minutes browsing the boards will soon help direct well as put off whatever task you should really be doing!