Sara, her new Italian lover & the lunch of shame

17 May 2013

Here’s Sara’s last post before she cycles off into the distance! 

Crikey – my last post before the MITIE London Revolution ride after a couple of days of getting to know my new Condor Italia. I hadn’t anticipated a summer romance this year (well any year actually) but I think I’m falling in love with this Italian.

Sara's new Italian love

Sara’s new Italian love

Aside from the fact that it looks incredible, it’s unbelievably light (I can literally lift it up with one finger) and has the most amazing gears which change without the merest suggestion of effort. I’m suddenly filled with confidence about Box Hill and some of the other slightly alarming looking hills on the Day 2 profile. In fact I glide up Croombs Hills with such ease now, it’s not so much the prospect of the circuit that’s making my eyes water any more, but the prospect of completing it on a wafer thin racing saddle! I’m definitely a commuter in this department. Sorry Claire (I have tried) and thank you Sonja for the nice padded gel cover.

Other than upping my laps of GreenwichPark, my training schedule has involved upping my calorie intake. This has been an unexpected fringe benefit of riding 180 miles in 2 days. My ‘lunch of shame’ was snapped by my incredulous boss (it was my second lunch of the day) and my chocolate covered Brazil nut and new Divine Caramel bar consumption has gone through the roof! I’m going to miss my guilt-free munchies next week.

Sara and her lunch of shame

Sara and her lunch of shame

I couldn’t start the ride without thanking everyone for their generous sponsorship  and introducing you to ‘Team Divine’ who will be doing the 2 day circuit with me. The pit crew, Tony and Isla, will be following us around the circuit with back-up supplies, chocolate samples and my old saddle just in case! And my brother Cameron will be riding with me. He was the only person I knew other than my husband who would be up for registering for a 2 day cycling event just as the training schedule had ended.

Tony and Isla test driving the Condor

Tony and Isla test driving the Condor

So what’s left for today? I’ve made my ‘to do’ and packing lists – a surprising amount to do and bring before a crack of dawn start tomorrow.

TO DO:

1. Collection of my repair kit from the Post Office.

2. A crash course in changing an inner-tube from Team Divine’s chief engineer (Tony).

3. One last trip to the Divineoffice to pick up some chocolate samples and Usherette tray for all the deserved cyclists at the Windsor Racecourse on Saturday night (look out for the woman in the Divine t-shirt walking like John Wayne).

TO BUY:

1. A giant tub of Vaseline!

Et Viola. I’ll be all set. See you on the other side!

Sara will be tweeting her way around the MITIE Revolution Race from @dubblehq


Announcing the winners of the Divine literary quote competition!

13 April 2010

We received some wonderfully creative entries to the Easter competition we ran in partnership with Penguin books!  We asked you to amend your favourite classic literary quote and make it truly Divine.  See here for all the entries received.

The two winners are Sue Smith with her twist on Mark Twain’s famous quote.  It reads, “When angry count to four; when very angry swear.  If that doesn’t work, eat Divine chocolate”.

S won with, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of free time and spare change must be in want of some chocolate”, a novel take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice!  This was a popular one to choose – we went for the one we liked best!

Congratulations the two of you – you have one lots of delicious Divine chocolate and Penguin books – on their way to you soon.


Write your own Divine Literary Quote

25 March 2010

‘Thoughts are divine’ from Orlando by Virginia Woolf

‘I’ve no ammunition. What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead.’ from Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw

“‘Darling,’ she said. ‘How too divine” from Vile bodies by Evelyn Waugh

This Easter, Penguin Classics and Divine have got together to celebrate all that’s Divine and chocolaty in classic literature. Check out our large milk and dark chocolate eggs for a competition to win chocolate and Penguin books.

Come up with your own Divine quote in the style of your favourite  literature classic and we’ll send our favourite a selection of Divine chocolate! Post your idea in the comments below.


MasterChef and the chocolate challenge

16 November 2009
Gregg Wallace, John Torode, Andi Peters try the winners dish

Gregg Wallace, John Torode, Andi Peters try the winners dish

Divine was the chocolate of choice at MasterChef LIVE at the Invention Test at London’s Olympia last weekend so we just had to go along and take a look. Fans of BBCs MasterChef will know the Invention Test only too well. Contestants are presented with a tray of ingredients and given 30 minutes to create a tempting dish to impress the stars including Terry Wogan, Nadia Sawalha and Andi Peters – all in front of a live audience! One of the chosen ingredients was our 70% Dark Chocolate which is great in cooking because of its rich, intense flavour. The best three dishes were judged by MasterChef presenters John Torode and Gregg Wallace who were a lot of fun on stage. The contestants created some ambitious dishes, one contestant created a prawn risotto in the half an hour time limit which I thought was pretty impressive.

Dan and James, two contestants

Dan and James, two contestants

The chocolate was used in lots of creative ways, savoury dishes, sauces and of course in desserts and puddings. The whole event looked pretty nerve racking, I know I wouldn’t have wanted to be up there. Andi Peters was telling us that your mind just goes blank when you see the ingredients. There were some disasters, some burnt apricots with pork and some over cooked rice in another but it all looked great fun. I said hello to the lovely Gregg Wallace at the end who is one of our favourite TV stars and who is partial to a piece of Divine.

Follow Gregg Wallace, Andi Peters and Divine Chocolate on Twitter

Watch John and Gregg talk about MasterChef Live

Experience MasterChef Live


Chocolate cocktails, chocolate cupcakes and chocolate canapés at The Gore Hotel

15 October 2009
Natasha Kaplinsky & Joanna Yarrow with Divine Martinis

Natasha Kaplinsky & Joanna Yarrow with Divine Martinis

Last night we hosted a cocktail evening for food bloggers and online friends to celebrate Chocolate Week. Held at the sumptuous Gore Hotel in Kensington, guests enjoyed Divine cocktails made by The Gore’s exuberant mixologist. A couple of days before the event Charlotte headed over to the hotel to meet the mixologist and try some of his Chocolate Week creations – the results were fantastic! A Divine Martini made with Divine’s dark chocolate bar, Baileys, Kahlua, Absolut Vanilla and vodka. The Strawberry Crush was a more fruity option made with fresh strawberries, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, vodka and Divine’s dark chocolate. Divine’s resident chocolatier David Greenwood-Haigh had spent the afternoon creating some wonderful truffles. Guests were in for a surprise as David also showcased his new chocolate creation – chocolate-coated cherry tomatoes! Cupcakes were provided by the lovely Helena Corvin-Swahn of Mallard and Swahn – words cannot describe how utterly gorgeous these miniature morsels of choccy heaven were. She had even decorated some of the cupcakes with a beautiful golden Divine heart – the heart-shaped symbol in the centre of the Divine logo which is a traditional Ghanaian emblem meaning revival and learning from the past.

It was great to meet people face to face – representatives from Daisy Green, Ethics Girls, The Londonist, Netmums, The Culinary Guide, Mumsnet, Green My Style, Joanna Yarrow of Beyond Green with friend Natasha Kaplinsky. We hope everyone enjoyed the evening as much as we did! Happy Chocolate Week everyone and thanks for joining us … we’ll be doing it again soon! To see photos from the event visit our Flickr page.

Choosing cupcakes

Choosing cupcakes


Working at Divine for a week

27 April 2009
Jack Williams at the Divine offices in London

Jack Williams at the Divine offices in London

My name is Jack Williams  and I am currently in my second year at the University of Sunderland studying a Public Relations degree. I managed to get this placement by speaking to Alistair, who is Head of Marketing at Divine, after a talk that he did at the university some months back. He then passed on the Charlotte’s details, who is Head of Communications and I pestered her enough to get this placement. So a big thank you to them both. 

Firstly, it has been great to learn from people within the Public Relations industry and I believe I learnt a lot from them.

Divine’s use of Social Media was extremely interesting to look at especially after my module in the subject. It was very useful to see how a company entering the world of web 2.0 approached this and have recently developed in this area. The idea of not just talking to your audiences but actually engaging with your publics in a conversation was good to see after discussing this theoretically in class.

Looking at the actual brand of Divine was the thing that most appealed to me. As the topic of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) becomes ever present in mission statements and companies business objectives, so to does the need for ethical companies to point out that this is not a gimmick or PR stunt. The work at Divine and the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative has altered cocoa farmers lives and the lives of there families for the better. Looking at how a company is founded on the base of trust and ethics was fantastic. It tied in with the CIPR code of conduct, which I should abide by as a student member and also my Media Law and Ethics module.

Some of my favourite bits, in no particular order

1. I went to an Ethical fashion event on Wednesday with Rosanna after my mission into work. Although fashion is not a specific interest of mine, it was really interesting. I met a couple of designers (one of which has a range in Topshop) and enjoyed getting some insight into the ethical fashion industry.

2. I got to experience working for the charity Trading Visions and thought of an idea for a release which is being used. So I was extremely chuffed with that. And Tom was a pleasure to work with as well. 

3. Meeting the staff. I did not feel nervous or intimidated at all. They were all great and I really enjoyed working with them.

4. The free chocolate, of course…

I previously carried out some work experience at an agency in the North West called Pelican PR, which I also really enjoyed. Working in-house at Divine has given me a different perspective into the world of Public Relations as you have to work on one brand rather than a handful. This was good because it allowed me to be more focused, especially as I still have fairly limited experience in comparison to someone who has been in the industry for years.

The biggest lesson of all for me was that I can really enjoy a job. Not to say that I haven’t enjoyed my previous jobs. I felt like although Divine is a business and there to make money, it did more than many other companies in the same sector to help improve the quality of peoples lives.


Divine leads, Cadbury follows

4 March 2009
Rose Birago from Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative that co-owns Divine Chocolate (photograph by Kim Naylor)

Rose Birago from Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative that co-owns Divine Chocolate (photograph by Kim Naylor)

There’s big news in the chocolate market today, see how Divine led the way


Farmers talk Fairtrade fashion with Sir Steve Redgrave

1 March 2009

 

Friday 27th February

Having raced around both the capital and the Westcountry following a jam-packed schedule, Friday morning brought our two farmers some well-earned R&R. We took them sightseeing around the stunning Georgian city of Bath – but before stepping inside some ancient and modern aspects of the city centre we called in at Starbucks.  Here we had a photoshoot with our two ambassadors of Kuapa Kokoo, as Divine Chocolate, the company they co-own, also provides the cocoa for the chocolate bars sold in Starbucks.

 

Next stop was Jolly’s, Bath’s oldest department store.  The farmers were dazzled by the sheer volume and variety of goods on offer.  And Anane, initially bemused by some vibrating massage chairs, reflected that setting up shop with these novelty seats might make an excellent business venture back in Ghana.  No trip to this spa town is complete without a visit to The Roman Baths which we duly went to, following in the footsteps of the ancient founders of Aquae Sulis.

 

The small market town of Chippenham, just half an hour from Bath, was our afternoon destination, where we were hosted by the Chippenham Fairtrade Network.  James and Anane spent the afternoon awareness raising with local shoppers which will hopefully serve Chippenham well as it works to become a Fairtrade town. 

 

James & Anane in Chippenham

James and Anane in Chippenham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was on to Bristol, a city famed for its imaginative embrace of the Fairtrade movement.  Not only has it been awarded Fairtrade City status, but the University of Bristol was the fifth university in the UK to be designated a Fairtrade University.  The city also has the highest awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK, with seven out of ten inhabitants recognising the logo (see www.bristolfairtradenetwork.org.uk for more info). 

So what better way to end their tour of the Westcountry than by being guests of honour at the Love Fashion, Live Fair Fashion Show held at Bristol Cathedral?  This spectacular event was organised by Bristol Fairtrade Network & Bristol Cathedral, in association with Oxfam and Christian Aid.  The farmers chatted to five times Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave who has launched a Fairtrade fashion line at Debenhams.  They swapped stories about the benefits Fairtrade has brought to their fellow cocoa farmers and the cotton farmers Sir Steve met on his visit to Mali. 

douglas-alexander-farmers-21

Douglas Alexander and farmers

The two farmers were given a truly memorable experience during their whistlestop tour of the South West.  They will certainly have some stories to take to their friends & family back in Ghana.  But we’re only halfway through the Fairtrade Fortnight – next stop Newcastle and the North-East of England!   Posted by Rosanna


Out West to Keynsham

28 February 2009

On Thursday James and Anane headed off out of London on a fast train to Bath Spa. We were on our way to hook up with Steve Faragher – Fairtrade coordinator for the Bath and North East Somerset district – who had put a great programme together to celebrate the Fortnight.

We were off to spend the day in Keynsham – a Fairtrade town between Bath and Bristol – with an extremely productive and energetic Fairtrade team.  Keynsham boasts a flagship Co-op supermarket store – and that’s where we headed first.  Rachel Ward – the Keynsham Fairtrade coordinator met us there, with members of her and Steve’s team.  We were incredibly impressed with this store – light, airy and spacious and nicely designed – and its commitment to Fairtrade manifest everywhere.  The cafe walls are decorated with a permanent display of lovely photographs of Fairtrade crops – including bananas, coffee, tea and cocoa, each with a short profile on where the Co-op sources their Fairtrade products from.

Anane and James with Councillor David Berlotti

Anane and James with Councillor David Berlotti

A reception gathered – and we were joined by B&NES councillor David Berlotti, complete with splendid chains of office, and his young daughter Emelia perched on his hip.  He welcomed Divine and the farmers and declared his commitment to Fairtrade now and for the future.  We spoke of the Co-op being the first to commit to Fairtrade – and how integral it was to their philosophy – as was obvious in the newly designed store.  We explained that several years ago the Co-op had made the decision to convert all its own-brand chocolate to Fairtrade, and had partnered with Divine to make it happen.  The farmers told their story holding everyone captivated – and asked everyone to keep on buying their chocolate so that they could keep building better lives for themselves, their families and community.

The Co-op cafe then pulled out all the stops with a special chicken and rice lunch – not normally on the menu – but created exclusively for their Ghanaian guests.

James and Anane with the Co-op cafe staff in Keynsham

James and Anane with the Co-op cafe staff in Keynsham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to Chandag Primary School where over 200 children were gripped by the story of where cocoa comes from, and how Fairtrade is improving lives of cocoa farmers.  We showed them the short film too – transporting everyone to Ghana for six minutes.  There was a riot of questions afterwards “how long does it take for a pod to ripen”, “what makes the beans go brown”, “how long is it from when the pod is cut down to when the chocolate arrives here in the shops?”.  There was a big moan when we had to wrap up – so many questions still to ask.
James and Anane outside Chandag School

James and Anane outside Chandag School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel had then arranged for us to meet Lesley Bowes – a local farmer in Keynsham Chewton.  Lesley showed us her 40 acre farm which she manages alone – and where she breeds beef cattle, pigs and some sheep.  James and Anane were really interested to meet her and talk about farming – size of land (Lesley’s would be a very big farm in Ghana – but here it’s categorised as small), price of fertiliser (all the farmers agreed costs were rocketing), and sustainability of farming for a local market.  We met Lesley’s extremely handsome black Aberdeen Angus cows, and her very frisky and sociable pigs (James and Anane commented on how big the cows are here – even taking into consideration they were all pregnant!). 

Anane and James with Lesley Bowes and her Aberdeen Angus cows

Anane and James with Lesley Bowes and her Aberdeen Angus cows

Lesley then treated us all to home made scones with cream and jam – perfect.

Back to the Co-op, where we sampled more chocolate, and met Keynsham Councillor Chris Davis, followed by an informal chat with the farmers. We thanked everyone for being such wonderful hosts and keeping Fairtrade top of the agenda in Bath and North East Somerset.

Steve then took us home for a really wonderful home-made Ghanaian supper – chicken in groundnut sauce – a triumph.  With profuse thanks James and Anane headed off to bed. Posted by Charlotte