The Story of May and my Rhubarb loaf.

The Story of our May (our coffee camper).

Let me introduce you to May, our beautiful 1965 Volkswagen Coffee Panel Bus. A LHD, ’65 European import sliding door panel van with 1600 twin carb engine, slightly lowered, IRS rear set up & with EMPI wide 5 wheels (in the VW world this kind of detail is important).
She began life in Wolfsburg, Germany as a bread delivery vehicle for the local byckerei (German bakery). She then became a family camper in Poland, before being shipped over to England in 2005 to reside in Malvern. There she was restored by a VW enthusiast and spent several years as a show car. Her  transformation to the charming, helpful van she is today started in 2013 and included a 70 inch roof cut, full roll cage skeleton with top side hinges & gas struts to open & close the roof. Still fire engine red at this point, she was then wrapped in chocolate brown & cream vinyl and branded The Split Screen Bakery by Kate and Ash, who now run The Steamhouse Cafe (http://steamhousebagels.co.uk) in Leamington Spa.  May then came to us in Nottingham via Kate and Dan from Sleaford.   I rebranded her and started the business The Split Screen Coffee Company.  When I jump into the driver’s seat I always have a little smile; the padded bench seat, the steering wheel you can slouch over, the pinch and slide windows… all so appealing, all so tactile.  It is the most personified object I own –  May and I are a team.

However,  May’s comfortable is where the list of creature comforts ends.  No heating on cold days, no air con on hot.  She leaks on raining days, and on snowy days I discovered this winter, the seat belt has only one setting which is tight and then very tight when I’m layered up and even that lovely leather bench seat I keep banging on about has an evil side – think hot days, long drive and bare skin.

But despite all this we are so looking forward to the start of another season and can’t wait to make the trip to London this weekend for the wonderful Classic Car Boot (http://classiccarbootsale.co.uk) in King’s Cross.  One of the coolest things happening in London this weekend and one not to be missed if you are into your vintage and classic cars.
Hope to see you there.

 

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My rhubarb loaf recipe – adapted from https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/rhubarb-pistachio-soured-cream-cake/

‘Tis the rhubarb season.  So abundant in our allotment at the moment, there are so many ways to use rhubarb but here is the recipe I use for my hugely popular rhubarb, soured cream and pistachio loaf.

Ingredients:
150g butter (softened)
125g soured cream
3 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
75g of chopped pistachios
100g of thinly sliced rhubarb

Method:
1. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and preheat oven to 180C/160C fan
2. Use a hand mixer to beat together softened butter, sourced cream, eggs, flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
3. Stir in most of the pistachios with all of the rhubarb and then pour into the lined tin.
4. Scatter over remaining pistachios and bake for 50-55mins until a skewer comes out clean.  I cover with tin foil so it doesn’t browns too quickly.
5. Cool on in tin and then wire rack.

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Summer Events

As we approached our one year anniversary, we have had quite the successes at recent events.

The summer was a messy start with Split Screen at Mudstock which was a muddy family excursion with a lot of ruined socks and a lot of fun!
Then later, in August, Jen was catering for the wedding of a lovely coffee-loving couple at Tudor Barn. The day after, we were at Trent Basin catering for prospective buyers of the luxury flats and houses in the new development on the outskirts of Nottingham’s city centre.

The weekend after saw us at Gloworm, the first year of a family festival set in Clumber Park.
With arts and crafts, a wide selection of bars and food outlets, rides, a mini beach, a small big top circus, and live entertainment, the first year of the festival was a resounding success for all involved.

The weather held well throughout most of the weekend, except from about 5 on the Saturday, before the great Dick and Dom took to the stage. People fled to their cars and under canopies to escape the rain. For their set though, everyone scurried back out for entertainment for all ages and which got everyone involved.
Mr Bloom and Toploader took the headline for the Sunday, and they were equally as popular.

Bring on the next week and it was our anniversary – the year had brought us back to the venue of our first event; Newstead Abbey.

A gorgeous weekend (with the odd shower) saw a flurry of people flock to see the likes of Michael Caines, Simon Rimmer, and The Great British Bake Off’s Nancy Birtwhistle as well as the array of food stuffs, locally distilled gin (yum!), and entertainment.

Hunkering out of the rain at Gloworm

As much a success as last year, we reflected on the past year. All the hiccups, teething problems, and successes any new business has. Personally, this year has been somewhat of a great juggling act and emotional roller coaster. With keeping down 5 jobs, family bereavements it’s safe to say I’ve been a bit of a mess, but Jen has been the most supportive and caring employer and friend to me during this time. I can’t thank her enough for that.

Another new employee joined us over this anniversary weekend, so you can see, the business is expanding and we’re only going to get better.
Our time gets booked up more and more quickly, and we’re always thrilled to be a part of anything, be it a party, wedding, or event.

Following another week on, Calke Abbey was another resounding success, with a line up of talks from the two Master Chef judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode, and previous contestant Dean Edwards. While Saturday’s weather was miserable, people still weathered the rain to see what the abbey had to offer.
As ever, you really have to come and see these events to see just how much is on, and how much enthusiasm each vendor puts into their business.

As September has begun, I see this as a mark of the end of our hectic summer, and the beginning of the equally busy autumn and winter season, so stay tuned for those events!

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May sunning it up at Newstead Abbey for the second year

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Early July’s Events

July was set to be one of the busiest months for Split Screen since we began nearly a year ago. With five events all over the midlands, the first two have gone very well!

Firstly Nottingham’s Night Market…

A little shot of the masses of people at Nottingham Night Market

With everything from micro-brewers, independent jewellery and clothing designers, to local producers, as well as live entertainment, the night was a success for everyone. With some 12,000 people turning up, it goes to show how local people come out in droves to support those in the community.
Anthony Hopkins, 31, from Sherwood spoke to a reporter from the Nottingham Post and said how he “… really like[s] the way everything [is] brought together here – I think it should a common thing in the Lace Market. It all smells great and the turn out is amazing, it’s just really cool.”

It’s so important to support for independent businesses, keeping the character of a city alive, and showcasing talent and local produce. These night markets have been amazing for bringing people together and showing these businesses to their city. I hope there are many more to come, and fortunately there seems to be no sign of them stopping, and the organiser has said through her social media how she is looking in to having night markets in more cities!

And if you missed this one, there is set to be another in the winter in both Nottingham and Derby.

Secondly, Lichfield’s Fuse Festival; a free festival featuring loads of family entertainment and a multitude of food and drink.

 

It may not have been wall to wall sunshine, but no spirits were dampened and it was a fantastic event. The festival is organised by Lichfield Arts who give a creative outlet for the community with workshops, music, and art on offer. Spanning three days, there was never a pause in the music or energy.
Whilst at this point I’m not sure how many people attended the festival, it was easily in the thousands, and we had a great time serving and chatting to all the visitors and volunteers.

 

Let’s hope the other events will be as good as these ones! Stay tuned later in the month to see how they go 🙂

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*Featured image of pianist at Nottingham Night Market from Diana Parkhouse

Bus Stop Over – 17th, 18th, & 19th June

Firstly, some VW Van porn…

Set in Newark’s Showground, the Bus Stop Over was a bringing together of all VW buses and an ensemble of traders selling anything from vintage wares and personalised VW memorabilia to home cooked grub all along with a couple of nights camping. Family friendly, pet friendly, and fun having – this was a great opportunity for like-minded VW petrol heads to get together and jam.

Credit to our Tiffany for these shots!

This was the first time we did a show as a trio and it worked out wonderfully; we all got proper breaks and got to have a really good look around and a chance to mingle in between the coffee serving. It was a fantastic event where we weren’t rushed beyond belief, and the people were all friendly and in high spirits.

There was a lot on for entertainment over the three days including live music and little events like The Bark in the Park Dog Show! – I met the winner, she was a lovely pup. They also had this Blue Brothers-esque cop car that anyone could write on – but believe me, it did get somewhat tiring when one child discovered the horn.

Image taken from Facebook, credit to Lee Perry

All in all, a very chilled atmosphere with very chilled people, and very cool motors. Not a bad little weekend.


And remember, if you can’t afford a VW camper van, but want in on the fun next year, you can always get yourself one of these…

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Why buy a bus when you can get this?

A Little Post…

… about The Galleries of Justice and a publicity update.

Last Saturday Jen went solo in The Vintage Bazaar at The Galleries of Justice, it was perfect weather, hazy sunshine and a cool breeze.
With stalls selling bric-a-brac from the 1920s to the 1970s there was a wealth of retro, kitsch, and vintage stuff on offer, plus a range of food and drink stalls.

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The Vintage Bazaar – Image taken from the Nottingham Post
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May at The Vintage Bazaar

The event was only for the day, so there isn’t too much more to be said – a great little gig!

In other recent news, Jen and May have gone and had themselves a quaint little photo-shoot…

 

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Photos by Amanda McConnell

Publicity and image are such a huge part of making a business heard, hence the above photos. There are more to come, so stay tuned for those 🙂

 

Prestwold Hall – 30th April, 1st May & 2nd May

We’ve worked with Great Food & Drink Festivals before, in our first gig last year at Newstead Abbey, then again later in the year at The Great Notts Show in Nottingham’s Old Market Square. Both had been a success for us, and this event at Prestwold Hall follows suit.

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May had some friends in the form of two other VW camper vans. One was dispensing gorgeous cocktails, and the other children’s entertainment – just a few possibilities the VW camper unleashes!

The event was the first of Great Food & Drink’s held at Prestwold Hall, and we were all situated in its extensive grounds. The Great Food & Drink Festival’s website boasted holding host to 100 exhibitors at the show over the three days, and given the success and number of tickets sold for the event, let’s hope it returns next year! If you missed out this time, and can’t wait that long, there is another Great Food & Drink event at Nottingham Castle on the last weekend of May.

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Cupcakes decorated by Mike’s award winning* fair hand, along with Jen’s brownies, millionaire’s shortbread, and banana bread

Almost needless to say, the Great British weather disappointed us with yet another wet bank holiday; but still people came out in their droves and many lined up for a coffee or two. Having said this, we did have some wonderful sunny intervals (hence the glorious looking weather in the snaps!).
Back to the British weather, and we had a few hiccups with our gazebo folding in on itself under the high winds, but we managed to stay  dry until the last day when we were packing up and Jen and I were doused with freezing rain water held by said broken gazebo. Mike was laughing hysterically inside the van. Of course.

 

Despite this we had a great time, being able to have some mini-respite and go around the event was fantastic. Producers of fine foods, drinks, and makers of artisan goods came from far and wide. The folks who came from furthest afield were perhaps the Cocktail Car Company, (picture above in the striking red VW) based in London. A cracking van with some top notch drinks if you ever see them!

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Aldo Zilli enjoying a double espresso after a talk he gave

Along with the edible goodies, the event also featured culinary talks with the likes of Jean-Christophe Novelli, Aldo Zilli (pictured below), and Marcus Bean.Everyone who went to see them really seemed to enjoy them, as well as our beverages upon their exit from the tent. Along with Zilli we met the usual characters we do working in this business. It’s often such a nice break when people tell you a brief of their life stories, all while waiting for a coffee.

I do apologise for the lateness of this post, but holding down four jobs does leave little time to write – even so, I said I’d try to keep up with it so I shall!

I have to say, that despite the troublesome weather, overall it was a fantastic event for us!

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Jen, May, and happy customers in the rare bank holiday sunshine

 

*Mike recently won a competition for “Best Decorated Cakes by a Parent”

The Classic Car Boot Sale – London, King’s Cross, 16th & 17th April 2016

Last weekend was The Classic Car Boot Sale, and by gum if we didn’t sit down that Saturday and Sunday.

A short summary: we went through 10 wholesale size bags of coffee beans, a wholesale size tub of hot chocolate, 10 cartons of soy milk, surely another 10 of semi-skimmed milk, Jen had to make numerous trips to fetch more water (in jugs so big we bought a trolley for the rounds), and I lost count of how many 6 pint bottles of whole milk were used.
Demand was high. We were the only people at the event serving fresh coffee, and with the chilly weather that weekend, the demand for hot drinks was ridiculous.

With a 7 o clock start, to get set up and ready for serving traders at 8, Jen and I didn’t sit down, have a break, eat, or drink until half six that evening. Needless to say a bath was in order at the end, and a sound sleep was had.
From what I did get to see of the event, there was a huge array of vintage, retro, and shabby chic clothes, accessories, and bric-a-brac to be had along with some fantastic looking (and smelling) food and drink. I’d certainly like to go to the next one, but as a punter! While I didn’t get to see all that much of what was on offer, what I did know was that the organisers and fellow traders were some of the most lovely we’ve got to work with so far.

It’s pretty difficult to keep on top of the orders when, just as you’re finishing an order for about 6 drinks, another 5 come through; and when you look up, you see a queue going on until you can’t see among the crowd, so you know respite is not in sight. All of this, while bending over a lowered coffee machine with just the two dispensers of water for the portafilters, one spout for piping hot water, and a steam wand. It’s very hot, a lot of burns happen, and there’s only the space to do a few things at once. My back is always ruined at the end of a busy day, but at least there’s the knowledge that it’s been good for business.

Jen does her best to give me as much time and space as I need when working (the arrangement is that I make the coffees, and she takes care of the money, small talk, and everything else). There’s so much bin clearing, surface and equipment cleaning, getting more stock, mixing hot chocolate and more that Jen takes on so I have the time to properly froth milk for cappuccinos. The system works, and we’re exhausted by the end.

Then at the end of business, there’s the Tetris game of getting two coolers, three flat-pack tables, six chairs, the loose products (cans of pop, bottled water etc), the flowers, the menu board, the sugar, the lids, the stirrers, the milk jug, the gazebo (in case of showers), the bags of coffee beans for sale, the cakes, the cutlery, the soap, and everything else into the confinements of the van, closing the lid and then we get to rest.

We usually get a chance before orders start coming in to get a few pictures of where we are, and of May, but this time this remains the only picture:

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Image taken by Jen, and featured photo at the top taken by Botond Istvándi

And granted, it’s not of the fair, nor our beloved van. It’s just a picture Jen managed to snap at the end of the first day as we walked back to the hotel.

Overall a hugely successful, tiring, and fulfilling trip down to London.

 

 

 

 

 

200° Barista Training

A visit to the roastery…

On the 6th of April, 2016, I was initiated in the ways of the 200° barista. Arriving at an unassuming warehouse was the cozied away roastery; save for a small sign in the window, I only knew I was in the right place from the heady smell of coffee drifting onto the street.

Myself and Mike (husband to Jennifer Walker and with her, co-owner of The Split Screen Coffee Company) were introduced to the Californian coffee-guru Alex and head roaster Mike. They gave us thorough training, with tips from the perfect tamping method to frothing milk to create the perfect taste and texture. About ten practice lattes later, and a lot of frothing w1ashing up liquid in water (which is surprisingly akin to milk when using a steam wand, and saves wasting a cow’s worth of milk in training) Mike and I came on leaps and bounds with our coffee making skills.

200 Degrees  have blown up with success from the demand from coffee fanatics. We were told how busy their café is on an average day, the sheer volume of roasting that goes on to keep up with demand, and their plans to open two new shops (one near Nottingham train station – if those works are ever finished!) so they’re pretty much going all out to test, roast, and blend the best coffee in such a relatively small operation.

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Above image taken from 200 Degrees’ website

I’ve been working alongside Jen at Split Screen since September 2015, so pretty much from then, we’ve been trying our best to deliver the best coffee out of the confinements of a ’65 VW Van.
We’ve had a fair few compliments on our coffees, teas, and hot chocolates, but I feel so much more confident with producing high quality beverages consistently now. (Although that may still waver on the cold evenings when we have a huge queue of people all wanting everything so quickly).

There’s so much to be said for the independent businesses trying to make it in cities where so much is franchised out and the heart is often gone. The care and effort that goes from the produce, to preparation, to the customer is so obvious with 200°, and it makes us all the more proud to be using their coffee in the van.
As Alex told us during the training, “there’s not a lot to coffee, but there’s a lot to coffee… it takes so little to either make or break a good cup of coffee – and just a bit of know-how to take something from a good coffee, to an great one”, words to live by.

 

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Inside the roastery – the masses of un-roasted beans lie in wait

Since I graduated from university with my degree in English literature, I’ve had very little inclination to do any writing, but having been around people so passionate about something they love and so clearly care about, it’s given me the impetus to start doing some write ups. Here’s hoping I’ll keep up with this!