Hey guys, it’s just your old pal Mel, back with yet another post blithering on about pizza. What can I say, I’ve found my niche! I say niche, but it’s more of a cavernous expanse, given my rapidly increasing girth.

I visited The Stable in Poole a few years ago and was really impressed by the quality and interesting range of pizzas on offer.

The Bournemouth restaurant is a fair bit bigger, in a beautiful building overlooking the gardens. So far, so good.

I was offered a delicious mulled cider on arrival and taken upstairs, where I was blown away by how gorgeous everything looked.

Beth, our cider master (best job title ever!), introduced herself and brought over paddles of ciders to try. She was so knowledgeable and talked us through the different flavours and production methods, as well as a bit of background on some of the local farms.

We took notes as we went along so that we could rate our favourites at the end. Beth also brought out a bottle of her disgusting old ‘Crusty Cupboard’ cider, to demonstrate what off cider tastes like. I wasn’t brave enough to taste it, but it smelled awful!

Halfway through, we took a quick break from cider tasting, as the pizza was brought out.

I must admit, I’ve never really eaten vegan cheese, but these pizzas were so delicious I made a mental note to pick up some Bute Island mozzarella ‘cheese’ to have as a nice change once in a while.

This is what happens when you bring food out to a roomful of bloggers!

By now, we all had the taste of pizza in our mouths, and had tried quite a few different ciders, so we tried a nifty little trick Beth taught us earlier on in the night. When we sat down we all noticed that we had a cup of coffee beans next to us. Beth explained that sniffing the beans helps ‘reset’ the palate so that you can take in new flavours again. A very interesting little trick!

Not only was this an evening of great food and drink in a beautiful setting, but it was very interesting and informative too. Beth was fantastic, running through everything in a fun and engaging way, while answering any questions we had.

The Stable offers cider tasting evenings, which start from £15 per head. If you know someone who loves their cider, I would highly recommend treating them to an evening like this. Great value for money and a bit more interesting than just your regular night out at the pub.

Me and Ewelina

Because it would appear I’m becoming known as somewhat of a pizza aficionado (finally, my talents are getting the recognition they deserve!), the lovely people at The Wood Oven invited me along to their blogger event last year.

Pizza box

Perfectly situated on Boscombe beach (seriously, you couldn’t ask for better views!), The Wood Oven is part of the Urban Guild group of restaurants. I’ve been to all the others and they are wonderful; I highly recommend the breakfasts and Sunday roasts at the Urban Beach Hotel.

The group’s founder, Mark Cribb, gave a really interesting talk about the inspiration behind his restaurants and three things became clear:

  1. He’s incredibly passionate about hospitality and bringing people together over great food and drink
  2. His menus all centre around great locally-sourced food and home-grown produce
  3. He absolutely loves what he does!

I think that last point is crucial to his success. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing someone talk passionately about a business they’ve built from absolutely nothing, and learning what drives them.

He also went on to explain the reason behind the company’s logo – a pineapple, which is dotted all over their restaurants, menus and marketing materials.

Apparently the pineapple is a well-known symbol of hospitality, though embarrassingly, I worked in hospitality for three years and had no idea! Back in the day, when pineapples were expensive and hard to come by, if a host served one at a party it was seen as a sign of opulence. Their eye-catching appearance soon inspired door-knockers, banister acorns and other home ware – seriously, you’ll start to notice that they pop up everywhere! Even today, you’ll no doubt have seen all manner of pineapple accessories – lamps, vases, trinket boxes. Now it all makes sense!

Mark then handed over to his head chef, who ran us through the basics of pizza making. He also showed us photos of his research trip to Italy. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it, eh?

Pizza chef

I watched and listened as his showed us the best way to knead and stretch the dough. Easy, I though to myself. I’m going to be a pro at this.

Um…it turns out I wasn’t quite the natural I thought I would be.

Several attempts and two balls of dough later, I gave up and decided to embrace my failings. The result:

Say goodbye to boring round pizzas and enjoy a spot of f(el)ine dining with the Geek Pizzafique CAT PIZZA.*

I mean, look how cute! It has herb whiskers and a mushroom nose, for crying out loud!

Sure, the others tasted really good, but were they cat-shaped? Nope.

We took our marvellous creations down to the kitchen and prepared to be pitted against each other in the ultimate test of creativity and culinary aptitude. I suspect I won more points for the former, but really, who wouldn’t want to eat a meowzzarella (thank you, I’m here all week), anchovy, rosemary and pawperoni pizza?

After the winners were announced (shockingly, I didn’t make the top three), we rounded off the evening with a cupcake decorating class, hosted by Urban Reef’s resident baker.

All in all, it was a lovely evening, and though I didn’t win a coveted guest spot on the Wood Oven’s menu, after a playful (and somewhat aggressively rigorous) campaign of harassment on Twitter, I managed to persuade the guys to put my glorious cat pizza on their specials menu.

Winner winner, kitten dinner**.

So, if you find yourself in Bournemouth and have a hankering for pizza, these guys are definitely worth checking out.

* Does not contain actual cat

**Again, I must stress, there are no actual cats in this pizza

 

When I had my shoot with Kaye last year, she also took some solo shots of me. I have to say, while I normally hate seeing photos of myself with no makeup, I actually love these. I was having a bit of an acne breakout when they were taken, but somehow I still look comfortable in my own skin.

In these photos, Kaye managed to capture a sense of acceptance and dare I say it, perhaps even confidence? When I saw them for the first time I was actually surprised that I don’t look more nervous or vulnerable.

Thank you Kaye.

 

After seeing a few of her amazing blogger portraits on Twitter, I reached out to the super talented Kaye (Fordtography) for some of my own. I don’t feel confident in front of a camera at all, largely because of my acne scars, but also partly down to being awkward af and not really knowing what to do with my face.

See what I mean?

So anyway, I told Kaye my fears and asked her to point ALL the soft lighting at my face and work her magic on my skin. To my surprise, she came back to me straight away and told me not to worry, and that she had pitted scars too.

I’d been planning to do some blog posts about my scars for ages, and this seemed like a sign. Straight away I emailed back and asked her if she’d like to collaborate on my #ScarredAndSexy project. To my delight, she said yes.

We decided to do a few serious shots, but also some silly ones of us having fun together. We wanted our personalities to be the focus of the photos, not our skin.

For the photos to be as raw and honest as possible we went makeup-free, with scraped back hair and plain clothes.

We are Mel and Kaye.

I’m a writer and marketer, she’s a blogger and photographer. We are both fun, creative and so much more than our scars.

We are #ScarredAndSexy.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold.

Rather than hiding the breakage, kintsugi celebrates it, honouring it as part of the object’s history.

Celebrate your scars. They are a part of your history, lines and imprints left by time. Reminders of the challenges you’ve faced – and overcome.