On July 14th, I went to the Hyper Japan Convention in Tobacco Dock, East London. Hyper Japan is billed as the biggest Japanese Culture event in Britain. As the name suggests, the Convention covers everything Japanese though there was one or two stalls that embraced both Japanese and Korean culture as well. Even the food was mainly Japanese but I restricted myself to sushi, specifically nigiri which is a solid lump of rice with a piece of smoked salmon on top, I do like the stuff though. The best part was trying mochi ice-cream, (mochi is sweet rice cake made from glutinous mochigome rice with an ice-cream filling). I have always had an interest in Japanese cuisine and culture and this really was the best place to be to find out more. Naturally, a lot of the stalls were selling merchandise relating to and including Anime and Manga and most of the visitors were dressed as anime or manga characters.

There were a lot of stalls and shops for such a packed area so it is impossible to pick a favourite place to go at the Convention and I ignored the Hyper Live Stage and Theatre in favour of exploration. There were a wide variety of shops overall, each focussing on a different aspect of Japanese culture including a shop that sold kimonos and one selling Japanese cookware and crockery where I acquired a nice new mug and a genuine Japanese one too! There was even a small restaurant selling hakumai (white rice) and genmai (brown rice) and sake but I didn’t go in. I did acquire a free brochure from Eat-Japan which provides the location of all known Japanese restaurants in the UK as well as a glossary pertaining to several well-known Japanese food products and where to get them in this country and even a couple of interesting recipes, including a Japanese take on Chilli Con Carne.

The event attracts people from all over the world as I spoke to a few foreign, notably American, visitors while I was there. There are also replicas of the 19th century American schooner Sea Lark and the 18th century trade ship Three Sisters moored outside the Main Entrance to Tobacco Dock and the nearest train stations are Tower Hill, Shadwell and Wapping. Not bad for a 19th Century dock that once endured an ill-fated stint as a shopping centre!




Chilli Con Carne (2nd Attempt)



  • 280g of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 240g of Kidney Beans
  • 41g of Schwartz’ Chilli Con Carne Mix
  • 450g Beef Mince
  • 125ml/4floz of Cold Water
  • 1 cupful of rice
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Fill up a measuring jug with the cold water
  2. Empty the sachet of Chilli mix into the jug and mix with the water
  3. Pour the beef mince into a frying pan and place on a hot hob at its highest temperature
  4. Fry the mince and stir until golden brown
  5. Pour in the Cilli mix and the chopped tomatoes
  6. Drain the kidney beans then pour them into the frying pan with the rest of the ingredients
  7. Pour the chilli con carne into a large bowl and place in the oven on a low heat (125 degrees C) for 45-50 minutes.
  8. Boil up some water in a pan and pour in the rice then add the salt
  9. Boil the rice, stirring occasionally, then pour onto a plate.
  10. Add the chilli con carne and mix with the rice.


Chilli Con Carne with Rice (1st Attempt)


  • 1 Sachet of Colman’s Chilli Con Carne mix
  • 150 ml Water
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Tin of Kidney beans
  • Beef Mince
  • Rice


  • Defrost the mince in the fridge overnight, place in the microwave if it is not fully defrosted before you use it.
  • Heat the Oven to 150 degrees Celsius
  • Pour the defrosted mince into a large bowl and break it up
  • Drain the kidney beans and pour them into the mince
  • Pour in the chopped tomatoes
  • Chop up the onion and pour it into the mince
  • Stir the sachet mix in water then pour it into the mince
  • Stir the sachet mix in with the mince, kidney beans, tomatoes and onion
  • Cover the mixture up and place it in the oven for 45-60 mins.
  • Once the chilli is removed from the oven, boil 4 tablespoons of rice on the hob for 10-15 minutes


Home-made Spaghetti Bolognese


  • Butter/Margarine/Oil (I used Butter for this)
  • Beef (or Lamb) Mince
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 1 Tin/Carton of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Packet of Schwartz Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe Mix
  • 3 Medium sized Mushrooms
  • 1 Tin of Tomato Puree


  • Brown the mince in a saucepan (or a frying pan) using a small amount of butter/margarine/oil.
  • Chop up the onion and the mushrooms then add them to the mince, along with the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree.
  • Add in the recipe mix and some boiling water if the mixture is too dry and/or too thick.
  • Leave the bolognese mixture on the hot hob to cook with a lid on the pan, stir occasionally, probably for about 45 minutes.
  • Place the spaghetti in a pan of boiling water and stir occasionally on the hot hob until the spaghetti is soft enough to eat
  • Drain the spaghetti in a colander and place on a plate then pour the bolognese onto the spaghetti


Home-Made Shepherd’s Pie 26/9/2016



  • Butter/Margarine/Oil (I used Butter for this)
  • Beef (or Lamb) Mince
  • 3 Baking Potatoes
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 1 Tin/Carton of Chopped Tomatoes (Optional, I used these unintentionally)
  • 1 Oxo Cube
  • Mixed Herbs (Optional)
  • Salt (I used Table Salt)
  • Milk
  • Cornflour (Optional, I didn’t use this in the end)


  • Brown the mince in a saucepan (or a frying pan) using a small amount of butter/margarine/oil.
  • Chop up the onion then add it and the chopped tomatoes to the mince.
  • Crumble an Oxo Cube onto the mince and add in mixed herbs to add flavour and stir it all in together.
  • Leave the mince, onions and tomatoes on the hot hob to cook with a lid on the pan, stir occasionally.
  • Peel the potatoes and the carrot then chop them up.
  • Pour some water into a pan until half-full and sprinkle in some salt.
  • Pour the chopped potatoes and carrot into the pan.
  • Boil the potatoes and carrot on the hot hob with a lid on the pan, stir occasionally.
  • Once everything is cooked, pour the mince into a large serving dish.
  • Take the potatoes and carrots off the hob and mash them together.
  • Carefully scoop out the mashed potato and carrot and place on top of the mince until it is covered up.
  • Place the finished product under the grill until the top is brown.



Messy Church, you would not think it, would you? Two words in the English Dictionary that could not be more mismatched. However, the thing is they do not have to be mismatched if people just use their imagination.

So that is why once every two months, Holy Trinity hosts a Messy Church session where I myself have been an on and off helper since 2010. I put it that way because after contributing for the first time at Christmas 2010, I spent most of 2011 and 2012 living in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Therefore, I could only attend whenever I came to Stevenage and Messy Church happened to take place. Now that I am back in Stevenage full-time, I have regularly attended and why? Because I really enjoy Messy Church, not only that but it is also a great opportunity for people from the general area to meet each other and put their heads together even if they do not attend Holy Trinity or indeed Church in general.

I also really enjoy contributing to these events because not only does it give me something to do but it also makes me feel like I am doing something useful for the community and for my fellow Church-goers. It also enables me not to feel so shy around children although some of them can be quite shy themselves but then so can we all every now and again. This year, I have helped to make the giant Chris-tingle and I have recently focused on food preparation, making Easter nests and flame-themed biscuits.

It is safe to say I am now part of the team and I intend to continue as long as these events take place. In conclusion, many thanks to the Messy Church team for including me; let us keep up the good work.

(My fellow residents of Stevenage can also see this article in this month’s issue of the Holy Trinity Church Parish Magazine)