Welcome to my blog!!

Welcome to the official blog of Journalist, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

I Finally Joined Instagram

Every week someone asks me why I'm not on Instagram. I've always thought it would be too much - I just couldn't see where and how I could fit it into my already manic schedule . But yesterday (we're now half way through the year) I felt a pang of dissatisfaction with life. I haven't been as creative as I want to be. I stare at computer screens so much these days for writing, that crafts and visual inspiration has taken a back seat but it's time to switch. I go through phases and right now I just want to satisfy my aesthetic senses. I aim only to post craft related images that I have taken, that will become my own creative moodboard. If you're on Instagram, follow me at The_CraftCafe...where you'll be treated to pics like these...

I'm absolutely loving seeing everyone's creative inspiration too, if you have a colourful Instagram account then let me know in the comments and I'll follow you. Or please do recommend anyone else that I should be following. 
Here's to some more happy snapping!

p.s If you aren't on Instagram you can still keep track of my photos online here.

Monday, 22 June 2015

How To Decoupage A London Themed Chair

A recent Vine post of mine showing how I decorated a chair has been getting a lot of love (and 150,000 views) so here's a more detailed description of how I did it. Decoupage is essentially one of the easiest craft techniques there is. A wee bit time consuming, but the results are always epic, especially when you go for large-scale projects like furniture.

You will need:

A piece or furniture (I used a red chair that I bought in a charity shop for £4)
Wrapping paper of your choice with motifs of (this one is City Pop-Outs London, designed by Matt Ponting from Doodling Around (around 4 sheets)
Can of spray mount and newspaper
Pot of Modge Podge (available from craft shops) or clear varnish
Brush, scissors, plastic gloves

Get going!

Cut out the motifs, in this case London buildings and landmarks. For the best result don't leave space around them, cut out each piece, up to the edges of each line. This is this time consuming part, I did the cutting out while watching several movies. 
Once done, marvel at the pretty pieces.
Lay out the newspaper and place the cut out pieces facing downwards. Spray the back with spray mount (glue in a can) then smooth each on to the piece of furniture.
The trick to decoupage is not being too perfectionist, don't make too many plans, just stick each piece down at different angles, as haphazardly as you like. 
Be prepared for lots of overlapping, your fave motifs may get covered up but fear not, you can always stick another one on top. It's important to ensure every end is glued down. 
Once you're happy with the design (you can go for full coverage but I left some gaps of red, as I liked the colour of the chair) either paint over the whole chair with clear varnish or a couple of layers of Modge Podge, depending on what you can get hold of. 

And Viola! 

The finished chair was displayed on Doodling Around's stand at PULSE a gift trade fair last month. It also got lots of attention, but alas it wasn't for sale. 
It's the ultimate London chair!
I did however help out on the stand, giving away some free sheets and encouraged people to have a go at DIYing it themselves.
I love decoupaged furniture. It's a way to quickly transform things, either with just a few pieces, for some detail, or try going to town with full coverage. You can buy special 'decoupage paper' but from experience any paper goes - wrapping paper, comic books, magazines all work perfectly, just avoid anything too thick.

Happy cutting & sticking!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Visiting Labyrinth Bridge: Daytrip to West Wycombe Park (where they filmed the opening scene of the movie)

I've been a huge fan of the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth (1986) for many years and actively follow 'fan' related stuff on the internet. Last year through social media I heard it was possible to visit the location of where they shot the opening scene of the film and I knew immediately that I had to make a fan pilgrimage there. I finally chose Sunday...
In the opening scene, the lead character Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly is seen reciting a passage from a book called Labyrinth. But then the clock strikes, the heavens pour open and she realises she is late to babysit her brother, so she runs over a bridge in a park, in the rain, and then continues to run home. 
This is the bridge in question: a still taken from the film...(circa 1986/85)
And this is it now, in 2015...located in West Wycombe Park.
West Wycombe Park is located just outside of London. I caught a train from London Marylebone to High Wycombe and then walked 2.9 miles to get to the park. There are buses that go there (but only 3 a day on a Sunday) it's advisable to drive but as the sun was out, a stroll there seemed like a good idea, even if it did end up taking an hour. The park are the grounds of a manor house which is still lived in by a family. Finding The Bridge was not as easy as I had expected - there are in fact many bridges in the park. I walked around it twice inspecting every bridge from different angles until I finally worked out which one it was.
See what I mean - there were many beautiful bridges at the park...
In the end my companion Worm, (a character who appears in the movie) spotted the exact location.
The original worm from the movie

As I knew I was on a mission to find The Labyrinth Bridge I wore my special owl dress which represents the male lead in the film The Goblin Kind, Jareth, played by David Bowie - whose character often disguises himself as an owl.

David Bowie & Jennifer Connelly in character

I videoed myself running across the bridge too in true Fan style! 
The rest of the park is Stunning. Visitors can either pay to only visit the gardens or the house and the gardens. I paid £5 for the grounds only. Sitting in this park is the perfect way to spend a free afternoon. You're not allowed to picnic here but just sitting down and taking in the epic views is enough to revive, refresh and de-stress you. The park is a good size, not too overwhelming. 

I sat back and watched swans and ducks, this handsome one caught my eye as I had not seen this variety before and there was only one. 

The park is only open 2pm-6pm and it's possible to spend all four hours there simply taking it all in. I love parks, I go to them at every given opportunity and am blessed to have so many great parks in London, but I have never been to a park like this before. It truly does have a magical feel to it, an air of fantasy and a little taste of what heaven must be like.
Here are the opening hours - they are sadly very limited but then it is someone's home so I guess they like to keep it to themselves too.
Just across from the park is West Wycombe's Hell-Fire caves, I didn't get a chance to visit them on this trip but if you follow the signs up a hill you can look down and get great views of the park (you can just about see the house in the distance.)
The house doesn't have a tea room but there a couple in the village just outside the park. I chose to have mine at West Wycombe Community library - which is the finest public library I've ever seen. Outside are chairs and tables to eat tea alfresco, while inside is a wonderful public library with sofas, surrounded by handmade items for sale.
I bought thus cushion which was made by one of the librarians, she was very sad to see it go but I promised to give it a good home.
I timed my visit to get the last bus of the day back into town which left at exactly 18.14 on the dot. While we were waiting, Worm made himself a friend; a giant snail. I think we'll need to come back again so they can visit eachother.

Never watched Labyrinth? A few years ago it was really hard to do so. I spent six years on a waiting list to get hold of a VHS copy (no really!!!) but now it's easily obtainable on DVD is regularly shown at cinemas and is also on You Tube. (It's up to you if you choose to watch it for free, but what I would say is if you watch the first couple of minutes you can at least see the shot I'm talking about!)

The following people inspired me to go on this pilgrimage
LabyrinthWiki, Anthony & The Trevi Owl.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Asian Awards 2015 - Red Carpet & Media Room Coverage

With cameraman Riaz Jugon waiting on Park Lane for the celebs to arrive
Last year I was invited to The Asian Awards as a guest, this year I worked there, covering the event for Asiana.tv. Sitting pretty dolled up at a table and being fed a five star three course meal is what most people were up to, but me and my crew spent three and a half hours freezing our socks off outside the venue awaiting the celebs to arrive then worked a further four hours in the media room again, all in the name of getting a story. But I wouldn't have had it any other way. Working at an awards ceremony is more fun than just attending one. Here's what happened...

Perfecting my presenting look

I planned my outfit the night before, an ensemble I created from various accessories I had at home, teamed with a dress designed for me by Birmingham based designer Sati for a previous event I presented at, but hey, I'm not one to not wear the same outfit twice, as long as it's styled differently!

My hair and make-up artist for the event was Naveeda but in order to get it done, I had to visit her on a boat where was was busy doing a photoshoot!

I love the rosy pink doll-like cheeks Naveeda created for me, it's one of my fave beauty looks

Shooting on The Golden Hinde II, the boat that is parked up by London Bridge (I've walked passed it so many times so it was surreal to be aboard!) Pic: Alex Pichon

Red carpet reporting

I recently blogged about what it's like working on a red carpet and this was one of the tougher ones. All the celebs arrived, got papped by the photographers then many headed straight inside. As I was stuck behind a barrier there wasn't much I could do, but I still managed to speak to some of the guests including...

I was at the end of the line of reporters, so on one side of me I had another journalist and at the other side is where the fans started. The space was packed with young girls - Zayn Malik fans awaiting his arrival; his first media appearance since quitting boyband 1D. Some were actually hyperventilating when he arrived! See more pics of that here.

Backstage at the media room

I didn't get to watch the actual award ceremony but once winners were announced they were led back stage to the Media Room where I was waiting for them! The biggest honour for me was speaking to fashion designer John Rocha, I have utmost respect for him (and although I don't usually wear trousers, I have one pair, designed by him, and they are spectacular!)

I recently interviewed Danielle Bux, the wife of football pundit Gary Lineker for a magazine article so it was nice to catch up with her again and with her hubbie this time!

The current sporting hero of our times, I also interviewed this cricket star, one of the billionaire Hinduja Brothers (he and his brothers are worth £14billion!) and Maya, the daughter of Dr Amar Bose of Bose technology fame.

I also managed to make Sanjeev Bhaskar giggle which is clearly an achievement!

And nabbed a word with presenters Sunny and Say who as ever, looked remarkable, I love their style as a pair.


Amidst the working, my colleague Fariha and I had our own Bond Girl moment with celebrity BodyGuard Yousaff Khan (who was looking out for Zayn Malik and Shah Rukh Khan on the night) but joined us for a dinner of lentils and rice (which is all us journos were fed!), got stopped by presenter Gok Wan, who told me I looked amazing, had a gossip with the lovely Bollywood ambassador Raj....

..and got to admire Shah Rukh from a distance (I wasn't allowed to speak to him!) One day eh?!

The video I made of the event is up on Asiana.TV and my You Tube channel so be sure to watch it! After finishing up post -midnight I had to hot foot it home to get ready to present my radio show in the morning where I also chatted about the event. 

As for next year...who knows if I will be working there or guesting there? Hmmmmmmmm!