Mexican Matchbox Wedding Favours

After eighteen months of planning, relaxed and intense all at the same time, our wedding went wonderfully. We tried to mix the Mexican details in with the very British setting of the grand but cosy Highbury Hall in Birmingham. These were some of my favourite parts – papel picado, tequila on every table, Mexican music and singing and dancing all night long!


Mexican Lotería Matchbox Wedding Favours, with Muñequita

One of the first things we got excited about was the favours, little glittery matchboxes with Mexican lotería cards for decoration (a game a bit like Bingo). Daniel had seen them on Etsy and they were so lairy I loved them! Of course, in full-on money-saving mode I decided to make them myself. I took it slowly, starting them in July while I was off work, and finished them in February. By making them myself we paid about £40 for the eighty matchboxes. They were about £90 for 80 matchboxes so with postage from the US on top I basically saved a bomb. You could save even further by printing the lotería pictures out from Google Images onto card and filling them with sweets or little printed out notes.

Materials we bought :

  • Matchboxes – 50p for 20 from the Bullring Market
  • Glitter card – £1 per value brand pack from Hobbycraft, you’ll need maximum three for eighty matchboxes
  • Glitter glue – £1.50 per colour, I used five colours from Hobbycraft
  • Glue – £2.00 from Hobbycraft
  • Guillotine – £24.99 from Amazon

Materials we had sent from Mexico :

  • Muñequitas – 100 little dolls
  • Lotería – 3 packs
  • Measure your matchboxes and cut your glitter card with the guillotine. Our matchboxes were bright orange, so it was really important to get the sizing right so that it couldn’t be seen around any edges. You should also be able to measure the paper to get the best number of pieces out of it so there’s as little wastage as possible. As an exporter it reminded me of my CapePack days trying to work out the optimum cartons per pallet for transport. Also, cover your work surface with newspaper because the value card leaks glitter everywhere!
  • Cut your lotería cards with the guillotine. Filter out those you don’t want, for example we took out El Negrito, and the ones with boring pictures like La Campana and La Mano (the Black Man, the Bell and the Hand). I also tried to get a good mix, there will be more Estrellas than Ranas for example (Stars and Frogs), so I did a bit of sorting and counting to get more or less even numbers of each design.
  • Stick the glitter card to one face of the matchbox, once that side is dry glue a different colour to the other side and leave a couple of days to dry completely. Mine were left to dry next to a sunny window for about two days in the middle of Summer, then transferred to a Tupperware box with a sheet of kitchen roll between each layer. I checked them every three or four weeks to make sure that the glue was sticking and that they weren’t rolling up at the edges.
  • Glue the lotería pictures onto what will be the top of your matchboxes and leave to dry. I put my piles of pictures in order so that I used the most exciting pictures, like El Borracho and El Nopal (the Drunkard and the Cactus), and went along them in order. I also tried to get mine contrasting, I would not glue a picture with a yellow background on to a gold glitter side, or with pink background onto a red glitter side etc. These were left for two Wintry days to dry by my sunny window.
  • Glitter glue around the outside of the lotería picture to hide the edges, leave to dry. I left mine one week at the sunny window in January, to be completely sure they were dry. Again I used contrasting colours, eg., gold glitter side with blue picture background with pink glitter glue / blue glitter side with yellow picture background with green glitter glue.
  • Fill the matchboxes with all your goodies and enjoy your guests’ reaction to the colours and the little surprises inside!

Shropshire in the Sun

It was a bank holiday and we went out exploring a nearby Medieval castle and a village little changed since the industrial revolution. With the wedding nearly two months behind us, we’re still taking advantage of the free things to do around the Midlands for an unusual day out, to enjoy the tranquil lull after four months of non-stop running. As we explored the castle, and wandered along the river with our ice-creams, I remembered my childhood visiting French castles and tiny northern villages, and realised I’ve always been a daydreamer, walking carefully and inventing stories in my head :

This room might have been a drawing room, or an armoury, there were no battles fought here but imagine the nobleman wishing he could prove his might over this area. The King came here, maybe he made some important decisions here, right here leaning against this wall in all its glory with tapestries and candles, with a burning fire and gazing pensively out this window at the valley surrounding the manor, the same valley that surrounds us seven hundred years later when all that’s left is a tangle of stones and stories and imagination…


Acton Burnell and Ironbridge

These old track ways, leading up to the door of what is now the tourist information office – once used for transporting goods from the bank of the river to the warehouse. Now that I work in logistics I think of the money that changed hands, the deals that were made, shouting and running – businessmen with their warm coats overseeing the commerce. A tender of rolled cloth is unloaded from a barge, it reaches the shore and positions itself within the ruts carved in the stone floor. Setting off a loose cutting falls and gets caught in the wheel, the whole tender spills out back into the river, ruining its load. The worker pushing the cart is fired on the spot, a valuable consignment from China is ruined, he walks the two miles home to his family of six children not knowing how he’ll feed them tonight…

Written for Ailsa’s Travel Theme : Tangle

Acton Burnell Castle is cared for by English Heritage and is free to enter

Ironbridge Gorge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, looked after by English Heritage and free to explore

English Breakfast in Nörjske

Tucked away in leafy Edgbaston are three little restaurants that look like they should hardly get any footfall, and yet they stay open. They’re too near to drive, but I wouldn’t want to walk the 20 minutes home in the dark of midnight. The first is Simpson’s, one of Birmingham’s Michelin starred restaurants where Daniel and I celebrated our engagement and the Michelin star makes the trip worth it in a taxi. Next is the Highfield, Roz at TheFoodieCouple has reviewed it and it’s also lovely for a slightly special occasion, a true gastropub where we sometimes take the car to have a drink and a chat on weekday evenings. Finally is Nörjske, one of the strangest little bars there is in the city.

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Yummy breakfast

On Saturday, with the stress and emotion of the wedding six weeks behind us, life began again relatively stress-free, a normality that I haven’t had since last Summer. It was a sunny morning so we walked down to Nörjske for brunch. The whole place feels like it would be beautiful in the winter! Downstairs is a bright little rustic-style deli that’s perfect for the lunchtime take-away crowd, a big selection of British and Scandinavian themed sandwiches and paninis, with Scandinavian products for sale in woven baskets and wooden pallet shelves. An outdoor seating area is ready prepared with patio heating and blankets. Upstairs is very clean, floor to ceiling windows allow so much light in – the white wooden booths look so welcoming. Everywhere is white and bright, with faux-fur blankets and wintery woodland animal cushions.

The brunch menu is not altogether Scandinavian, we had an omelette and eggs benedict. My dish was two little halves of bread roll that were the perfect amount to mop up the two poached eggs, together with crumbled ham hock with a beautiful hollandaise sauce. The omelette was perfectly runny in the middle and looked enormous but tasted so light. It was an indulgence but with our wedding six weeks behind us we basked in the delight of knowing that we didn’t have to be anywhere or talk about anything specific, enjoying an hour and a half of delicious food, laid-back music and a lovely view over St George’s Church.

A Grown Man Crying

We bumped into some friends in one of the new vintage-style hipster bars in the city centre, three friends grew to five, and five to seven, laughing and chatting and enjoying the music and some continental beers on one of the first sunny afternoons of the year. The road is full of new little bars attracting the late 20s to early 30s crowd, a craft beer pub, a sheesha lounge, a Caribbean restaurant and our vintage café-cum-bar. but it still hasn’t quite shaken off the seedy reputation from just two or three years ago when all these places were strip clubs.


One man catches my eye, in among all the men with perfectly kept beards chatting about the football savouring the newest craft beers in the rotation, the women in over-sized cardigans and miniskirts swapping tips for the newest baking fashions, and the stag party and the hen, I see a tall blond man in an Adidas tracksuit. He stands out with a short beard and a tiny sports bag. And he’s crying. I grab my purse and search out what coins I can find. I run out of the café using the open floor length window rather than the door, it’s too urgent for the door. But he’s gone. My friend follows – we find him standing slumped against the black-painted door of a disused office building, crying. I ask if he’s OK, he tells me that he’s just looking for something but everyone is refusing him. His accent and use ofrefusing rather than rejecting tells me he’s Eastern European. He reaches out with a dirty hand, his fingernails are yellow and brown and torn. I drop my three gold coins in his hand and go back to my friends and the beer and the music and the laughter, passing back through the café window again to my world.

A beggar is seen on a street in central AthensAs far as I remember I have believed that you shouldn’t give money to street beggars – they will only spend it on booze or drugs or something else that “doesn’t help them”, but this grown man is walking in the street and he is crying. Yes back in the boom years there were some people on the street who are there by choice, but since the economic crisis there are more and more people who are there by circumstance alone. I saw a documentary once that included a British business man who had been hugely profitable in Spain but made some bad decisions and left his family desolate, he scraped together the money for a flight to the UK, and returned with only the suit on his back and a small bag. He had nowhere to go, no family and no friends, I don’t remember if it was he or they that were too ashamed. And my friend told me about a father, left penniless through divorce, who was living on the streets begging for enough to buy his kids a McDonald’s every Saturday so they would never know his real situation. There’s a lady that reads a book outside the train station, I keep meaning to take her something but never think when I walk out of my house. Everyone on the street has their story and their own circumstances for being there.

coinAnd so what if they are going to buy booze? Their lives must be pretty tough if they’re on the streets in the first place, nowhere to sleep, being ignored in the street, people looking away, pretending they don’t see. If I what I give them buys two cans of lager, then for me that’s fine, it will either keep them a little bit warmer tonight, or they drink to forget their troubles for an hour or two. If what I give them buys a minuscule bag of poor-quality whatever, then that’s not really fine by me but once that money has left my hand I have no say, it becomes their decision and if that hit will make Sunday-afternoon-Adidas-man stop crying and feel better for a little bit then that’s fine by me.. If it brings them comfort in their hours, weeks, months of need, then so be it – I’d rather be the person that gives them that tiny comfort in a life of despair than the person that makes them feel like they don’t deserve to walk on this Earth. They deserve to be here just as much as me and that is why they are crying.

Love Letter to Barcelona

This post is adapted from one of my writings on the course at Bournville College. The task was to write about the structure of an interesting building. I remembered my first visit to Casa Milà in Barcelona, in December 2003 ::

“Undulating” is the word most used to describe the roof of the Casa Milà, along with the staircase at Casa Batlló and the beautiful balcony at Parc Guëll. Use it too many times and it becomes boring, Gaudí wouldn’t like that. Standing on that roof, undulating it is not. The bones are on the outside, grey under the clouded sky, and Casa Milà towers over Passeig de Gràcia, not ready to give up his secret. Climbing the stairs, don’t stop to take in the mahogany doors and green-tiled floors on the headphones, it’s not important, it’s not a feeling, keep going, the roof is the prize.

Out in that crisp Barcelonín Winter, they look at first glance like luxurious swirls of ice cream, dancing in the sun, but the chimneys don’t welcome you, with menacing faces and soldier-like regiment softening with every step you take. Touch everything. Lose yourself in the maze of the patterns and the sunshine and the cold and the golden city. The yellow is misleading, it looks warm but the soldiers on the roof say otherwise, staring down at these invading tourists, like the guards of the Milà family tomb, tolerant until they are alone again.


This was the first piece that I actually got positive comments on, before this I was told I write angrily – but my love-letter to a building showed a sense of belonging there rather than here. How can a building make you feel?

Super Bowl 2015

So normally I would write a little about how great or terrible the Super Bowl was. However last night this was all I really got, Vernon Kay (dickhead), Man vs Food guy, ex-Blue Peter presenter. Channel 4 coverage began straight after Dragon’s Den on BBC2, and I was falling asleep during that last Dragaon’s Den pitch. I understand the Patriots won – despite them being bastards, I’d much rather them than Richard Sherman after he slaughtered the Bronco’s last year.


Just before going to bed