Monday, 28 November 2011

A taste of India...

Madhu chargrilling some aubergines
One of my other life passions is food. Good, fresh food. Nothing beats a lovely meal, prepared, and then enjoyed with friends.

On 19th November I spent the day with some good friends learning a little more about indian food, under the expert tuition of Madhu Choudhry.

Madhu trained as a chef in 1994, and did her work experience at the world famous Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India. She moved to Norfolk in 1999 and started offering cookery tuition at her home, before starting her own catering company “Ethnic Fusion”.

She has introduced her food to the masses with regular stints at the award winning Creake Abbey Farmers Market, regularly selling all her stock within the first hour. And earlier this year she opened her brand new cookery school – based at Etling Green. This was our location on Saturday, tucked away in the Norfolk countryside just outside Dereham.

The cookery school is set in an old barn complex, part of which has been transformed into a fantastic spacious kitchen which is both welcoming and comfortable to work in. There were 5 of us learning from Madhu on the Beginners workshop, which is a full one day course introducing you to all the major ingredients used in Indian cooking, along with a chance to taste and then recreate some classic Indian dishes. We arrived just before 10am, and with cups of tea a plenty, settled around the demonstration hob to begin our day of learning.

Entrance to Ethnic Fusion

A welcoming environment with a few home touches!

Madhu first told us about all the key herbs and spices used in her cooking, which we passed around the class to look at, and importantly, smell. Madhu uses the freshest ingredients possible in her cooking, and this includes freshly ground spices. Being able to smell all the ingredients really showed us the difference freshly ground spices make. Then we watched as she created 4 dishes which we would then get to eat for lunch, and recreate ourselves in the afternoon.

Spices - you have to imagine the wonderful aroma
Cooking whole spices

Madhu gives all students on her courses copies of the recipes learnt on the day, so you get more time to concentrate on looking and listening, and don't have to worry about scribbling notes about ingredients. This was really handy, although its worth taking a notepad to write down some of the many tips shared throughout the day.

On the menu for our workshop was chicken masala, vegetable pilau, baingan ka bharta (an aubergine dish), and carrot raita. The morning was spent watching Madhu create these four flavoursome dishes, before we sat down at the dining table at the end of the workshop to enjoy them for lunch. This was another great point of the day, as we got to experience exactly how the dishes we were to prepare in the afternoon should taste – all the different flavours and textures.

Madhu at work
Delicious carrot raita
Madhu's four delicious creations, a taste sensation!

And then after a leisurely lunch, it was time for us to do the hard work, under the watchful eye of Madhu and the ever helpful Jenny, who made sure we had enough drinks (cooking is thirsty work!) and also cooking pans. We spent 4 hours creating the 4 dishes. It sounds like a long time, but actually flew past and was most fun.

Each dish was taste tested by Madhu, and at the end, our creations were packaged up ready to come home with us. My creations fed 6 people very well, so you get plenty to take away!

My workspace at the end of the day.
Take out for 6? OK then!

All in all a really good day, and thoroughly worth doing. And, tonight I put my new skills to use and made a lovely chicken masala for dinner.

To find out more about Madhu Choudhry's cookery courses visit 
Vouchers are available for Christmas this year - a great gift for anyone who loves Indian food!

North Norfolk Farmers Market details are at (another blog waiting to happen!)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

On tour.....

I'm very conscious that it's been quite some time since I did a photo blog.

For those of you who don't follow my travel blog over at - for the last 8 weeks or so I've not really been able to take any photos. I managed to hurt my back so even lifting my camera has been quite the effort. Hopefully I'll be back to it soon.

In the mean time, I've decided to write this blog about a time which changed my life somewhat, and ultimately led to my decision to leave the UK for a while.

It all happened at the end of 2010, and involves a band from Portland, Oregon, called Come Gather Round Us.

First let me tell you about Come Gather Round Us. They are Catherine Feeny, Sebastian Rogers, Jon Neufeld and Mike Danner - and they make great folk type pop songs.

All brilliant artists, they came together in Portland and have so far recorded two albums, 'Remember Where You Are' and 'Despair'.

In late 2010 Catherine and Sebastian came over to the UK to tour, joined by Mike for some of the shows. I suggested it might be an idea for me to join them for the first few dates on their tour, having never done this kind of thing before and always having quite wanted to. Luckily for me, they allowed me to, and so one merry day in October, we filled the boot of my Ford Focus estate with a mixture of cases, camera gear, musical instruments and merchandise, and left Norwich for exciting times on the road.

During the week I ended up learning a lot about myself, a lot about touring, a lot about merchandise selling, and some more about great friends. A good combination I think. 

Catherine and Sebastian learnt that I have mild OCD and occasional road rage....and that I have some rather dodgy songs on my Ipod. 

The tour took us to Birmingham Glee Club and Cheltenham D Club before we took a rest day in Bristol. Then a date at the Bristol Fleece beckoned. I was due to leave the tour at this point, but after some gentle persuasion I decided I needed to experience more of this life on the road stuff, and I rejoined them up in Edinburgh a couple of days later for the show at Sneaky Pete's. We were joined by Mike for the Edinburgh show and drove in convoy down to Manchester to do a show at the Night and Day. 

Then sadly I really did have to leave, although I was able to join them all for one last Halloween show at Norwich Arts Centre, which was spectacular. 

The experience was brilliant, and I loved hearing the set evolve over the course of the shows. I loved the different audiences, and meeting people with just as much of a passion for music as I have. I also loved being able to take photos of the whole thing.

 And at the end of it, I realised that I would actually quite like to be on tour more often. I like life on the road, and all the things that come with it. It's mostly great fun, very rewarding and pretty inspiring too. I challenged some of my own views and ways of doing things during the week, and I realised that for the first time in ages I felt really happy, and not so scared of following my own passions. Spending time with some amazing people who have followed their own passion for music gave me a whole new perspective.

Three weeks after coming back from tour, I made some changes to life. I resigned from my job, left my flat, and am currently living in Adelaide, Australia.

Come Gather Round Us are still making amazing music, and I can't wait to see them again soon.

Visit the Come Gather Round Us website at

'Remember Where You Are' and 'Despair' are available from CD Baby

Come Gather Round Us at CD Baby

(CD Baby are one of the best stores I have ever bought music from – I love their order update messages!.....)

A set of photos from the 2010 UK tour can be found here:

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Imogen Heap - a musical journey

The night of 19th April was probably the best night I've had in Australia so far. I was at the Dunstan Playhouse to see Imogen Heap play her first ever gig in Adelaide.

The set for the Australian tour used a real tree branch instead of the sculptures used in the UK and Europe

As anyone who knows me will tell you, the two things in life I am most interested in are music and photography. Probably in that order. For as long as I remember I've had music in my life. It started with me playing my parents records on an old record player ('The Best of Leo Sayer' and Abba's 'Super Trouper') and now I have hundreds of albums by different artists. If I don't listen to music at least once a day I get twitchy. When I hear music, it can make me happy, sad, or a mixture of both. It can bring back memories and create new ones.

I first started going to see live music around the age of 16. The first concert I went to was REM at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1995. The next year I found myself in Hyde Park watching The Who, Bob Dylan, Alanis Morissette and Eric Clapton. In between the sets by Eric Clapton and The Who, this girl called Imogen Heap played some songs.

Some 15 years later, here I was in Adelaide about to watch Imogen Heap once more – and amusingly Bob Dylan was playing a couple of kilometers up the road at the same time. I didn't really care for Bob however, as Imogen Heap is one of my favourite artists of all time.

Loved the reflection of her hands in the top of the grand 'piano'

I've been incredibly lucky to have been able to combine my love of music and of photography since 2003. I don't know what made me decide to start taking photos at the gigs I went to – but as soon as I started I knew I wanted to continue doing it. And it led to the opportunity to take photographs of artists on location, in the studio, on tour and making music videos. More recently I've even filmed music videos. I've had some truly unforgettable experiences.

I am even more fortunate to have photographed many of the artists whose music I absolutely adore. Sometimes I'm able to give something back to them through my photographs, which is amazing. And through this I've discovered even more music, and more musicians to photograph. It's a vicious circle that I'm more than happy to be stuck in whilst it lasts.

It's definitely getting harder to pursue my music photography as I'm not attached to any magazine or agency with my work – I do it because quite simply I'm really passionate about it. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to continue my music photography in Australia like I did back in England. And in fact I wasn't feeling creatively inspired at all on this trip until I became involved in Imogen's project to create the first song for her new album. The song was created over the period of two weeks – and involved anyone who wanted to take part. The whole thing was done online and the first stage involved people sending in sound samples, then words, photos and moving images. I got creative in ways I hadn't imagined I ever would – recording sounds as well as taking photographs. Inspiration should never be underestimated, ever.

The final song 'Lifeline' has now been released and to hear it live last night just over a month after the project started was really good. This is one of the things I really love about what Imogen Heap does – this pushing the boundaries with her music. She does things like the 'Lifeline' project that haven't been done before, and engages with people in ways others would not even consider. And she does incredible things with “ordinary” sounds to make them part of an amazing piece of music. This last bit is a good lesson for anyone creative I think - what at first can be perceived as small and insignificant, when seen or heard from a different perspective, can suddenly become massively significant. In fact that might even be a life lesson?.....

Anyway. Thank you Imogen Heap. For your incredible talent, your music, for inspiring me, and for allowing me to continue with my passion. It's been a fun journey thus far.

'Lifeline' is now available over at and also on itunes.

The full set of photographs can be viewed at

This blog is with kind permission from the artist.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Alice Potter at the Gray Street Workshop

Today marks my first photo blog about a person. This person is Alice Potter, one of the busiest people I know, and also one of the most talented.

She is at the Gray Street Workshop in her workspace, creating some pieces for an upcoming exhibition “Theirs Yours Mine”, which opens on 4th May at the Light Square Gallery in Adelaide.

Work ready for "Theirs Yours Mine"

Alice describes herself as an art jeweller – that is an artist whose medium is jewellery.

Alice has been at Gray Street since 2007. Her work station reminds me of her - it too is very busy (but not untidy, everything has a place) and is also colourful, welcoming and most definitely enthralling.

Every space is taken with materials or tools that will create the next piece. Suddenly some inspiration will strike and Alice will busy herself in a box, bag or the cupboard to find something that fits in with her latest piece – a look of concentration as she teases and tweaks the latest object into it's chosen place.

I couldn't resist asking Alice a few questions to go with this blog.

Q: Have you ever been the subject of a photo blog before?

Blog? Yes. Photo blog? No. It's nice to have my work space (and dorky concentration faces) documented. I'm a believer in the 'the more photos you have of you around the more likely there is to be a good one' motto. And I think this correlates with artwork and studio progress as well. One day I'll look back on this and think "Was I really that messy?".

Q: How was it for you being my subject today?

Great! I hope I wasn't being too rude running around making making instead of sitting with tea and contemplating the meaning of it all. It was lovely to have someone to talk to whilst I was in my work mode, although I don't think everything I said during conversation could have made sense... My head goes through a million things and to a thousand places when I'm knee deep in plastic food, silver chain and sequins.

Q: What has inspired you this week?   

This week? I am currently researching emotional communication through colour for an Honours assignment and I picked up a very simple and straight forward piece of writing about colour association, which in turn gave me a bundle of ideas for studio experiments. That, and I also made a neckpiece out of a slice of fake white bread and a beautiful playing card which I absolutely love, and think will change the way I design and make for a while.

Fake white bread has many uses...
Q: What makes something a success for you?

When I am truly visually satisfied with what I have made. 

Q: Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

Jewellery wise: Still making as feverishly as I do now, exhibiting as often as time and energy permits.
Location wise: I love South Australia, but am not as opposed to wandering as I used to be.
Alice wise: I think this seems to be everyone's eternal dream, but I would love to be living on a property somewhere secluded enough to forget what day of the week it is. Just excuse me while I bake a cake / collect the duck eggs / read my book / rummage about in my home-studio.

To find out more about Alice and to see more of her amazing contemporary work visit

Alice also has a blog at

To see the entire set of photographs on Flickr visit

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Adelaide Gaol

On 6th April I visited the old Adelaide Gaol. Built in 1841, the prison was operational until 1988. During this time it held around 300,000 convicts, with 45 of them being executed at one of 4 locations in the gaol.

The original part of the gaol is one of the two oldest buildings in Adelaide. The gaol opened incomplete, after exceeding the estimated cost of building and almost bankrupting the state of South Australia. Over the years many modifications were made, with additional facilities added, and the location of executions changing several times.

The older parts of the gaol would have been miserable to live in, and the newer ones not much better. Small cramped cells with no light, and no heating, would have been almost unbearable. On such a warm day, there was a chill in even the more modern cells. A welcome relief for me, but certainly not for anyone residing there.

There weren't many people wandering around the gaol on my visit, and this made it eerie at times, particularly in the dark cell blocks and around the gallows. The permanent gallows in the hanging tower were particularly spooky and I daren't walk over the trap door underneath the beam where the condemned were strung up. Two cells are found in the hanging tower. One was the holding cell where the prisoner spent their final two hours before execution, and the other was for the executioner – containing the switch to open the trapdoor.

Gallows and trap doors
Executioners cell in the hanging tower
Holding cell in the hanging tower
 Between the inner and outer walls of the gaol, the 45 executed are buried, the location of their bodies marked by writing on the inner wall. Only one woman was executed at the gaol and indeed she was also the only woman executed in South Australia – Elizabeth Woolcock was convicted of murdering her husband and was put to death in 1873. The last person to be executed at the gaol was Glen Valence in 1964. As you walk between the walls you see that some of the executed are still remembered, with flowers also a marker to some of the graves.

 There are parts of the gaol that are suffering the wear and tear that is to be expected with an old building. The site is now looked after by the Adelaide Gaol Preservation Society inn conjunction with the South Australian Government. Visit for further details.
For the full set of photographs visit: