Hello to those of you who found this blog post because you were googling naughty things. Shame on you. Today I’ll be talking about dog walking.
This week, I’ve been looking after my mum’s dog, Dusky, whilst my mum and dad are on the Isle of Wight celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. OK, I’ve sort of been looking after their dog – I brought her up to Suffolk, but because my new house (renting, not bought, for everyone that keeps asking) requires a “pet addendum” to keep pets, I didn’t think I’d risk asking this early in the game if I can have sleepovers with my friends, the animals.
Luckily, Ben’s parents (also in Suffolk) generously allowed Dusky to stay with them. They have a dog already (Jimmy, a grumpy Jack Russell Terrier), and he wasn’t pleased to see another dog enter the premises, but Ben’s parents LOVE her. She was initially a bit nervous (she is a rescue dog, so god only knows what happened to her before my mum took her in), but has settled in beautifully.
She’s had adventures aplenty. As well as walking around Southwold common, meeting other dogs, being frightened of bikes and freaking out at the sea, my brave little girl has been for a walk, OFF THE LEAD, for the first time ever:
I was a bit worried to start with, as she has no recall to speak of, and I’m not her real mummy, so I wasn’t sure if she’d make a run for it and never come back. But I kept the faith, and we’ve bonded quite well over the last few days, so she kept quite close most of the time.
But even more exciting than this, is she had her first ever play date. And what a play date it was.
I think I’ve mentioned my friend Vin and her two enormous Newfoundlands before. Well, they’re about a year old now, and sodding enormous. Thor, the boy, is about 12 stone, whilst his sister Jester is (only! Hah!) 9 stone.
Despite their size advantage, and the fact there was two of them and one of her (and it was THEIR turf, not hers), Dusky surprisingly put them in their place and ran rings around them. Jester was actually AFRAID of this minute lurcher, retreating behind Vin’s legs every time Dusky went to say hello. Thor, on the other hand, fell deeply in love – he followed Dusky everywhere, licking her ears and generally dribbling all over her (Newfoundlands are drooly dogs).
There were only three dogs, but with their size and her speed, it felt like there were at least a dozen dogs. A fun time had by all – we must do it again some time!
Oh, final excitement: Dusky also caught her first rabbit whilst at Vin’s. It had mixamatosis, so it was probably better off dead anyway, poor thing. Luckily, Dusky broke its neck pretty swiftly, but we had to chase her around the garden for a while to get it off her. Vin had the honour of disposing of the corpse. Fun. Times.
August 25, 2011 | Categories: Britain, car, exercise, family, holiday, philosophy, photography, sociable, Suffolk | Tags: animals, dog, excitement, exercise, family, funny, holiday, humans, I love, me me me, mum, optimism, philosophy, shiny, sociable, Suffolk | Leave A Comment »
Here’s a little fox wot a made. Kit came from my mum’s Cross Stitcher subscription. Enjoy!
Today’s bit of street art is courtesy of my mother and her travels to her homeland of Belgium. I’m not 100% certain of which town this was spotted in (I think it was Mechelen, but I wasn’t there, so I can’t be sure), but she saw it and thought of me. Aww.
EDIT: Want to see more work by the same artist? Roa, based in Gent, Belgium
On Friday, I met up with my mum and aunt, who were having a day out in London. They had already been to see Jan Gossaert’s (Flemish, like they are!) work at the National Gallery by the time I met up with them, and had a cheeky sit in at a lunch time concert at St Martin-In-The-Fields whilst they were waiting for me to arrive, so I knew they were on a culture binge. After a spot of lunch, we decided to round off the day with a visit to the Victoria & Albert museum.
After a drift through the hall of statues (the first gallery you come to after entering via the subway), we decided to avail ourselves of the temporary exhibition on the 1860-1900′s aesthetic movement, The Cult Of Beauty.
As all three of us are avid lovers of all things Art Noveau, it drew us in immediately. With a philosophy best summed up by Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, the aesthetic movement was a celebration of beauty. Whilst I wasn’t mad on everything in the exhibition, there was an astoundingly large selection to choose from. My favourites included Pavonia (the picture used in the promotional material, as above), Proud Maisie, The Beguiling of Merlin and Louise Jopling. I was also deeply drawn in by the beautiful statue, Mors Janua Vitae (death is the gateway to life) by Harry Bates – the picture on that website does not do it justice; it is stunningly beautiful and more than a bit unnerving.
As well as being crammed full of beautiful paintings, sketches and sculpture, The Cult of Beauty also boasts some architectural drawings (including sketches for Whistler’s famous Peacock Room), Morris wallpapers, pottery, a set of wrought iron gates, some beautiful clothing and astonishing feats of carpentry. Oscar Wilde gets a mention or two, and there is a poster for a play entitled “Quite Too Utterly Utter”, which makes me grin like a loony.
The exhibition is on until the 17th of July, and is well worth the price of the ticket. We spent a good couple of hours in there, and would have taken even more time if we hadn’t started flagging after a long day.
Tickets are priced at £12 Full, £9 Seniors citizens, £7 Full time students, ES40 holders, 12-17 year olds, £31/£19 Family tickets (2 adults and 2 12-17 yrs/1 adult and 2 12-17 yrs)
Find full details on the V&A website.
May 23, 2011 | Categories: art, Britain, clothes, family, jewellery, London, money, museum, philosophy, sociable | Tags: animals, art, crafts, excitement, family, humans, I love, London, me me me, mum, museum, music, optimism, philosophy, shiny, sociable | 2 Comments »
I LOVE St Martin-in-the-Field’s café in the crypt. It’s so wonderfully weird.
Yes, it’s a café in a crypt. Yes, underground. With old tombstones on the floor.
You might think it sounds a little creepy, but it really isn’t. Café in the Crypt is cosy, quirky and charming. They serve refreshments pretty much all day, with meals available at lunch and dinner. Whilst choice of food is fairly limited (one meat/fish dish or one vege dish, or a selection of cold salads etc.) it is always top notch quality, and reasonably priced.
Yesterday, as they were in the area, my mum, aunty and I went there for a lunch of fish and chips, with mushy peas and freshly made tartar sauce. Far too big a portion to finish on one’s own, and only £8 for the privilege. The menu changes daily.
It’s a buffet cart affair, so don’t go there expecting table service.
The Crypt also has a gift shop, art gallery space, brass rubbing and host live music events (notably their jazz night’s). Well worth a visit.
Well, in the final of my blog posts about my mind blowing week in Dubai, I’ll tell you what we did (aside from eat and look at shops).
The answer is: not a great deal. I’ll be honest with you – you can’t go on holiday to the UAE for more than say a week, because there is simply not that much to entertain yourself with. Unless your life revolves around designer shopping (which mine doesn’t), then Dubai may be for a one off trip.
Dubai does not have much of a cultural history. There aren’t any ruins to see, or historical buildings. Even museums and galleries are in single figures (although we did see a great exhibition from the British Museum – see below).
But don’t get me wrong – Dubai is great fun. Just don’t expect to be entertained for weeks on end.
We gave the “desert safari” thing a miss – essentially dune bashing in a 4×4 followed by dinner in a bedouin tent. We did a similar thing in Qatar six years ago, and I can’t imagine it’d be much different in Dubai (just 40 mins away by plane). We also didn’t hunt down any camels – I rode one, and we saw them in racing training, also in Qatar.
But we did the water-park thing. Oh yes.
We went to Atlantis, based on the Palm Jumeirah (yes, that huge, palm-shaped island they built), and pretty much spent the entire day pratting about on inflatable tyres. Round and round the rapids we went…
Atlantis is sodding enormous, with a large range of water slides to choose from (I only actually went on two, but one of them involved going through a transparent tube THROUGH an aquarium, so I think that counts for something). There’s also a variety of restaurants, to keep you fuelled throughout the day (although the service left a LOT to be desired). And if you really want, you can relax on the man-made real-sand beach, and swim in the actual sea -
Nothing quite beats finishing the day with a Virgin Pina Colado (i.e. no alcohol) drunk our of a pineapple, though. OK, rum would have beaten it, but still…
But Atlantis was not the only swimming (ok, splashing about in water) I did during the week. Like all awesome hotels should have, our hotel boasted a roof-top pool. The joy of near 40-celsius daily? You can have a dip, and then dry off in the sun in about a minute. Mmm, toasty…
The final, major outing we did in the week was our Saturday trip to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is arguably even “newer” than Dubai, in that they are still constructing a major tourist attraction, Saadiyat city. Included in Saadiyat will be the Arabic Guggenheim, the Arabic Louvre, a marina, a nature reserve, masses of hugely expensive villas (my dad’s company are doing the telecoms set up for TDIC, so he had access to show us around a AED10m (about £1.6m) villa) and much, much more.
At the moment, Saadiyat is very much a work in progress – some of the villas are there, but otherwise there is a “Story of Saadiyat” exhibition (which tells you about the work they’re doing), a restaurant, The Splendour of Mesopotamia exhibition (courtesy of British Museum) and… that’s about it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing, but maybe I’ll check in on it in a few years (especially as the recession has hit works HARD – I’m telling you people, if you were thinking of investing in Arabic property, NOW IS NOT THE TIME!! There, I think I’ve done a public service…)
Then, it was onwards to Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque -
One of the only (if not the only? I have no idea) mosques in the world that is open for non-Muslims to visit. And what a one to visit! It was bloody huge. Four minarets and countless domes, everything was marble inlay and gaudy chandeliers.
Understandably, you couldn’t waltz in wearing your summer dress – the staff provided abayas for women to throw on (I will reserve my opinions on cultural attitudes towards women) and men have to wear long trousers. You are asked to remove your shoes before entering the mosque itself.
And here, just a handful of pictures from the mosque itself. Wow, right?
Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
And so ends my stories of the Middle East! Obviously, I can’t relate every single thing we did in these short blog posts, but I hope I have given you a taster of what Dubai (and Abu Dhabi) have to offer. I had a whale of a time, best aspect of course being the time spent with my dad, who pretty much lives out there now – boo
It’s not for the faint-hearted, and definitely save your pennies up before heading out there. But most certainly worth a look in.
April 27, 2011 | Categories: art, clothes, debate, family, holiday, money, museum, photography, sociable | Tags: Abu Dhabi, art, dad, debate, Dubai, excitement, family, humans, I love, Middle East, mum, philosophy, shiny, sociable | 5 Comments »
Today’s post revolves around the food wot I et in Dubai. Yes, it does merit its own post.
Food is in abundance in Dubai. Emaraties have a particularly sweet tooth (my mum argues that this is because they don’t drink alcohol, but personally I think they’re right to accept that sugar is awesome). There are cakes and sweets available pretty much everywhere, but not really chocolate so much (it’s a hot country – I may have mentioned this before).
So that explains the huge sweet shop -
But we ate surprisingly little by way of puddings. Maybe that’s because there was meat to be had, and I am way more susceptible to meat than sweets (and that’s saying something).
One of the restaurants we dropped into was the Butcher’s Shop, down at the Jumeirah Beach Resort. Here, like a butcher’s shop, you could buy cuts of meat to take away. Or you could select a cut of meat to eat there in the restaurant. And it can be bigger than “standard size” if you really want. Standard size was big enough for me, to be honest -
Another restaurant we went to was in the China District in Dubai’s International City. International City is on the outskirts of Dubai, essentially providing cheap accommodation to Dubai’s foreign workers. It’s made up of some generic looking buildings, each slightly architecturally personalised to represent different cultural districts (e.g. the Moroccan District had Moorish doorways).
We went to a restaurant called Little Sheep for a Chinese food experience ENTIRELY new to me – Hot Pot.
Essentially, you get a massive pot of stock, which is set on a hot plate that’s built into your table. The hot plate keeps the pot bubbling gently, whilst you prepare your food. You can order a variety of dipping dishes, including thinly sliced cuts of meat, noodles, mushrooms, vegetables, seaweed knots.. We went for beef, black fungus, knotted seaweed, and a couple of salad leaf dishes (which don’t so much cook as wilt dramatically). It’s a really fun and sociable meal, and since getting back into the UK, I’ve found a shop in Brixton that sells Hot Pot stock, and even a restaurant in London that does Mongolian hotpot…
Oh, but the big finalé of the week… The Fairmont Brunch. Oh yes oh yes oh yes! My mum and dad were so excited to take me to this (they’ve been a few times before). For a small fortune, you gain access to three hours of gluttonny and as much Moet et Chandon as you can pour down your gullet.
The food comprises every conceivable cuisine under the sun, including sushi bars, a huge pudding bar, and even a shawarma kebab rotisserie. I was in heaven. Needless to say I had about a dozen courses, and was rightly stuffed and drunk as a skunk by kicking out time.
Friday brunches are becoming more and more popular in the hotels in Dubai, but Fairmont is reknowed for being the original and best. My parents do spoil me. And I ain’t complainin’.
Tomorrow: Yes, but what is there to do in Dubai..?
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve just gotten back from a week’s holiday in Dubai with my parents.
It was hot, but more than that, it was obscenely decadent. If you’ve been to Dubai in recent years, you’ll know what I mean. I simply couldn’t believe the scale, the scope and the extent of the wealth scattered everywhere.
I’ve worked out that the only things that you can’t get in Dubai are strippers and Primark. Anything else (yes, even pork) is available. Even well known brands like M&S, Claire’s Accessories and New Look were around. Oh, and they had a Hello Kitty shop.
OK, something a bit more typically Dubai now (let’s face it – if I want Hello Kitty, I have to wait until Tokyo recovers from natural disaster).
The Middle East is a bit infamous for splattering money over everything. They need to have the biggest, the most expensive, the most exclusive, the most diamond encrusted, solid gold eye-sores available. It was quite a spectacle to see for real, and, as I kept saying all week, it was Something Else.
Let me give you some examples -
The Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest tower -
An indoor ski slope (bearing in mind this is a country that suffers the high 40s (Celsius) in high summer) -
And the world’s most expensive piano (an ugly monster if you ask me. But who cares? It’s 24-carat gold plated.)
I’m sure one day, some very brave person will write an exposé on the Psychology of the Middle East, and explain why rich Emarities feel the need to show off their wealth in such an outrageous fashion.
Oh, I have sooooo much more to share with you (such as actual stories of stuff we did, and a LOT of photos of food) but I think this so far is enough to blow your mind. Oh, and it’s a Bank Holiday, and outside it is sunny. Rowing at Ham on Thames awaits!
More tales of Arabic extravagance await. Stay tuned!
April 25, 2011 | Categories: art, debate, family, jewellery, money, music, photography, sociable | Tags: dad, debate, Dubai, excitement, family, Hello Kitty, holiday, humans, Middle East, money, mum, sociable | Leave A Comment »
I have have just arrived back on British soil. To my Facebook friends, this comes as no surprise. To the rest of you – hah, tricked you! Didn’t I do well?
I have spent the past week with my mum visiting my dad in Dubai. And WOW what a place. But you know what? I’ve been on a plane for eight hours. I’m exhausted. I’ll tell you all about my adventures later.
Phew, it’s nice to be back on home soil!
Following on from the post about taking my mum to Whitechapel… We also visited the wonderful Spitalfields market, and spotted this down a side street. Pretty awesome, no?
I love magpies. In fact, I love most corvids – they’re pretty, in a not-so-obvious way. But magpies are best, because, like me, they like shinies.
I took my mum to the Tatty Divine shop at the very end of Brick Lane. She loved it. And why wouldn’t she? Tatty Divine is… Well, divine.
I want this. £57. Arrrrrrgh.
April 22, 2011 | Categories: art, clothes, crafts, family, I Want Never Gets, jewellery, London, money, sociable | Tags: art, crafts, excitement, family, humans, I love, I Want Never Gets, London, me me me, mum, shiny, sociable | 2 Comments »
I took my mum to Whitechapel a couple of weeks ago, and we had a great time wandering around the shops and generally enjoying the sunshine.
On our travels, we came across a lot of street art, including this beautiful, enormous crane -
Yesterday, I saw Fiddler on the Roof for the first time. Twice in one day in fact. And I just so happened to be playing bass in the pit.
Lewes Operatic Society were, as usual, fantastic. They all have such great voices and presence in that company, especially the lead playing Tevye (our narrator, and head of the family).
It’s a bit of a miserable story, but it’s littered with jokes and romping tunes, so no worries there. The famous “If I Were A Rich Man” takes centre stage, but I preferred the more sombre “Sabbath Prayer” and “Sunrise, Sunset”.
Definitely worth a look. Lewes Operatic Society put on great shows.
After a very successful two-day spring meeting with the British Neuropsychological Society, I am absolutely exhausted. So, in lieu of a write up, or any attempt at thinking, here is a picture of my pin cushion. My mum made it for me. No, not just put it together – she made the lace. Yes, my mum makes lace. She is awesome.
My pins (eeeee, I love them so hard) were the last set that Cross Stitcher Magazine had to offer at the Stitch & Craft show two weeks ago. In fact, they were part of the display, so I had to put on my best sad-puppy face to get them to dissemble the display.
Yesterday, bleary-eyed from Wednesday’s late night, I made my way to Kensington Olympia to meet my mum and her friend Jill. But this wasn’t any old ladies’ get together – we were going to Olympia 2 to attend the 2011 Stitch & Craft Show. Oh yes.
From fighting our way through the doors (I have never seen so many ladies “of a certain age” gathered in one place before – it was surreal) we were greeted with a Santas Grotto of craftiness. Threads, patterns, gadgets, yarns as far as the eye could see. We arrived just before 11. We didn’t leave until 3pm. I spent over £50. Arrrrgh…
But I could have spent so, so much more.
The stalls were simply amazing – so many beautiful colours, so many amazing, inspirational projects. You really have to see it to believe it.
But the highlights?
Well, first off, my mum went all giddy when she had the chance to meet her hero, Jane Greenoff (who was lovely, and had AWESOME hair). I’m an idiot, and didn’t take a photo of them. Very, very gutted.
Secondly: GIANT KNITTING.
And finally – I got to meet one of MY heroes. Mr X Stitch. SQUEAK.
I first became aware of Mr X Stitch via Craftster. Once upon a time, I produced some sweary tea towels (NSFW) and they became Mr X Stitch’s “Craftster Pick Of The Week”. I was honoured, to say the least.
And to discover that he was at S&C yesterday was…. Awesome. I tried not to be too star-struck. Fail. He gave me a sticker (I <3 Mr X Stitch – it’s on my thread tin now). He let me have a photo with him. It’s true – I do <3 Mr X Stitch.
Stitch&Craft is on for the next few days (til 5pm on Sunday) – so what are you waiting for!? Tickets are available on the door (£10, or £9 concessions, or £4 for children). Go go go! Find out more here.
Yesterday, I was at my mum’s in Sussex. Given the miserable weather, we decided a day-trip for shopping was in order. So we pootled off to Lewes, for a wander about.
The best place to park in Lewes is, of course, always packed. But we managed to get a spot outside the old Needlemakers indoor market. There is a limit to 2 hours max parking here, but we thought that would be enough time to browse the shops (without frittering away our entire day).
Lewes is a wonderful little old market town, and has evolved into a quite up-market, quaint tourist town (and a fabulous, if on the pricey side, place to shop for the more unusual bits and bobs).
Most of our stay involved looking about in the shops inside the Needlemakers – my favourites being Wickle (where they sold, amongst other things, real beetles set in resin, and postcard booklets entitled “Beautiful Sheep”, “Beautiful Pigs” and “Beautiful Cows”), Skylark (selling a selection of fairtrade craft goods and a variety of unusual books and music) and, of course, not forgetting: The Patchwork Dog and Basket. More on this at a later date – needless to say, they sell goods for patchwork and quilting.
Lewes itself is a lovely place for a general explore – it’s got a lot of hilly bits, which makes for a more interesting walk then a flat town. Oh, and did I mention, it has really unusual shops? Like ones that sell MASSIVE jars of chilli jam?
And in the words of Jackie Chan’s uncle – One more thing! St Michael:
February 19, 2011 | Categories: art, Britain, crafts, exercise, family, food, money, photography, sociable, Sussex | Tags: animals, art, crafts, diy, dog, excitement, exercise, family, humans, I love, mum, photography, shiny, Sussex, walk | 2 Comments »
HAH. Weren’t expecting that one, were you? Well, think again. I’m not all angst and darkness. No, contrary to popular belief, I love Disney films. Well, some of them, at any rate.
And Tangled is definitely one of those that I love. I was beginning to get a bit jaded as far as “modern” Disney was concerned, but Rapunzel, her “magic hair that glows when she sings”, the charming Flynn Rider (who, trust me, has more depth than he originally lets on), the brave horse Maximus and the BRILLIANT chameleon Pascal, have most certainly won me over.
OK, OK, this is a pretty saccharine twist on the original Brothers Grimm incarnation, but then, that is the fate of the fairy tale in the modern age – it must be sweet and light (with some mild peril), and of course, it must be moral.
And I’m happy to say, Tangled ticks all the boxes. The goodies are good, the baddies are bad, there are reformed criminals and heroic animals. Someone is called Eugene (a name that has sadly been too long forgotten). There are a lot of very well written songs (yes, it’s semi-musical) including the fantaaaaastic “Mother Knows Best” (brilliant, as I was at the cinema with my mum). I’m still confused as to why Rapunzel had no shoes, but I’m willing to overlook that. It is all beautifully animated (works well in 3D!) and the script is very sweet.
Oh, and there is lots of hair. That’s a given.
Cheers for more reminders that long hair is, in fact, awesome.
February 13, 2011 | Categories: art, books, debate, film, philosophy, sociable, Sussex | Tags: animals, animation, art, books, cartoon, comedy, debate, Disney, excitement, fairy tale, film, films, funny, horse, humans, I love, kids, moral, mum, philosophy, Rapunzel, sociable | 2 Comments »
Ok, like an idiot, I spilt orange squash on my keyboard. So while I wait for it to dry out, I’m posting from my phone (isn’t tech amazing?)
As a result, a long post is out of the question, so you’ll have to make do with a piccy if my mum’s adorable & dorky dog. Again.
Any of my friendly Twitter followers *waves at you lot jovially* will have maybe seen me blurting out seemingly random lines recently, such as “I’m a fire stopper!”. Please do not be alarmed: I do know the words to The Prodigy’s hit single, so this is not some nerdy cock-up. This is another form of special nerdiness, which is in touch with my childhood in a beautiful way.
Oh yes, I LOVED the Horrible Histories books, and so I was filled with glee when the chaps over at the BBC made a children’s TV series based on Terry Deary’s genius combination of facts and fun. Whilst it’s a little sad that kids are being encouraged back towards the box and away from the books, it’s great that we’re sneaking education into their entertainment, once again. And it’s not just for kids, either – even Ben’s mum (who joined us in watching some HH over Christmas) was amazed to learn how much the Victorians invented.
Arguably, the best thing about HH is its fantastic songs. Oh yes yes yes. Catchy tunes have been forcing facts into our heads for many years, and HH songs are top notch. Some of the favourites in our household include “doing the Pachacuti”, the 4 Georges “Born 2 Rule” and of course….
Oh dear god, hunt it down and you’ll be hooked, I promise. And, just because I love you, here are the lyrics to help you along.
CHARLES II: KING OF BLING
My name is, my name is, my name is – Charles the second!
I love people and the people love me
So much that they restored the English monarchy
I’m part Scottish-French-Italian, a little bit Dane
But one hundred per cent party animal!
Spaniels I adored, named after me too
Like me they were fun with a natty hair-do.
Is today my birthday? I can’t recall
Let’s have a party anyway, because I love a masked ball
All hail – the King – of Bling – let’s sing – bells ring – ding-ding
I’m the King who brought back partying!
King Charles my daddy lost his throne and kings were banned
They chopped off his head, then Olly Cromwell ruled the land
Old Olly wasn’t jolly, he was glum and he was proud
Would be miserable as sin only ‘sinning’s not allowed’
When Cromwell died the people said ‘Charlie me hearty
‘Get rid of his dull laws, come back, we’d rather party.’
This action’s what they called the Monarchy Restoration
Which naturally was followed by a huge celebration
The King – of Eng-land say – no sin – to sing – or anything.
All say I’m the King who brought back partying
Great London Fire was a whopper
In my reign London city came a cropper
So this King did what was right and proper
Fought the fire, proved I’m more than a bopper
I’m a fire-stopper!
Married Catherine Braganza, she was a love so true
There would never be another, well maybe one or two
Lucy Walter, Nell Gwynn, Moll Davis, Barbara Villiers
You think that’s bad but her name’s not as silly as:
As king I must admit I broke the wedding rules
But who cares when I brought back the crown jewels?
I reinstated Christmas, make-up, sport and even plays
I was the Merry Monarch they were Good Old Days
When said – and done – King Charles – did run – England – for fun
I was the King! Loved by everyone. My song is done.
Lyrics written by Dave Cohen and music by Richie Webb
January 8, 2011 | Categories: books, family, holiday, London, museum, music, Suffolk, TV | Tags: books, Charles II, Christmas, comedy, Cromwell, excitement, fox, funny, history, holiday, humans, I love, London, mum, museum, music, optimism, shiny, sociable | 4 Comments »
Yesterday’s post was a bit ranty, eh? So I’ll go back to what I promised, and ease you out of the rest of 2010 all gentle, like. By sharing some pictures of the Christmas presents I received! Friends and family alike have all been heartwarmingly generous this year, and I hope they all liked what I got for them. Of course, the best gift of all was being able to spend time with so many wonderful people (and eat until I felt sick – the rumours were true, Ben’s sister DOES cook an amazing roast!!). However, you can’t photograph the spirit of togetherness. So here are my material goods:
Lovely new red satin bedsheets are from my brother and his new wifey (Alec&Katie), whilst the St Andrew’s cushions are from my uncle and aunty. Mr Foxy was a little gift to myself – he has a heaty wheaty tummy
Not one set of headphones, but TWO! Ben made my music-related dreams come true, by buying me these lovely over-ear Skullcandy headphons (HESH in hot pink, and red Lowriders). I’m happy to report that they are awesome.
A squeaky clean and sleepy-looking Ben, standing in the kitchen doorway which has been adorned with all our Christmas cards. He’s also holding one of the four mugs we received this year – quite an achievement! However, I drink a LOT of tea, so this is no bad thing. We got two union jack mugs from my parents, an awesome Ford Capri mug from Alec&Katie, and…
Pac-Man mug!! From my friends Sas and Matt. This is brilliant – it’s plain black when it’s cold, but poor hot water into it and PAC-MAN APPEARS!! Also featured is the adorable sugar shaker Sas and Matt got for us. Oh, and both are sitting on top of the new chopping board Beth got for us Sas and Matt also got me some cute little cupcake-shaped lip balms.
I love love love Marmite. So I was tickled pink when I opened this gift from my mum. There seems to be a lot of Marmite merchandise around at the moment, but a lot of it is frankly quite naff. However, this serving dish (and ceramic spoon) is charming. Not suitable for actually cooking in, and I don’t exactly host dinner parties (no dining room, you see), so in a moment of drunken genius, I decanted my home-made dry porridge mix into it (and spilled a lot of oats all over the kitchen in the process). My parents also got me a bar of “Very Peculiar”, the marmite flavoured chocolate, but that is long gone: it is indeed very peculiar, but also strangely delicious.
And I think that’s about enough for one day! I have so much more to show you, but that can wait for another day.
What about you chaps? What were your favourite Christmas gifts?
December 30, 2010 | Categories: books, clothes, clubbing, crafts, family, food, holiday, London, music, photography, Scotland, sociable, Suffolk, Sussex | Tags: animals, art, bed, books, Capri, card, Christmas, cupcake, excitement, food, fox, gluttony, headphones, holiday, humans, I love, Marmite, me me me, mug, mum, optimism, Pac-Man, Scotland, shiny, Skullcandy, sociable, St Andrew, Union Jack | Leave A Comment »
On Saturday, I went with my family to the Old House restaurant in Copthorne, Sussex. It was supposed to be a table of 7, but as my big bro and his wife got horrifically trapped on the M40 and Ben only managed to get through as we were leaving the restaurant, there was just the four of us. But my dad, my mum, my aunt and I still had a lovely time.
We’ve been to the Old House before. We keep going back – it is lovely. We went there for my mum’s 50th, my 18th and now my mum’s big 6-0. Despite the stupidly low ceilings (it is a period building after all) the place is incredibly charming and the food is amazing.
The staff congratulated us as we ducked through the door, dusting off the snow – I’m sure they had many cancellations that evening due to bad weather. They offered us a seat in their ante-room – sofas by an open fire – and brought us champagne (well, I had a G&T – not actually a fan of champagne) and canapés.
Whilst sipping our drinks, we chose our meals. We were waiting to see if any of the others would get through, but after we got the 8pm call from Adam saying he was turning back, we decided to go through to our table.
What followed was a delicious and tastefully presented meal. I suspect a number of staff were unable to get through that evening, as we were often waited on by the restaurant managers – charming couple.
For starters, I went for smoked salmon with pickled cucumber – the cucumber was surprisingly tangy and complimented the salmon beautifully. Delicious, and I made it disappear very quickly. My mum decided to give starters a miss, and I can’t for the life of me remember what my dad had. My aunty had this gorgeous looking duck liver parfait, served with an intriguing grape chutney and toasted fruit bread:
Main courses arrived seamlessly – in fact, we didn’t have to wait long all evening (not that we were rushed, either – the staff seemed to be very intuitive when it came to timing). We set ourselves up with a bottle of red (Fleurie Cuvee Presidente Margeurite 2009) and a bottle of sparkling water. The birthday girl went for a lovely looking salmon fillet:
…whilst my dad went for twice roast belly of pork (famously the most delicious and least healthy cut of pork). My aunty went for a double whammy of liver, choosing pan fried calves liver, served with bacon, creamed potatoes, roasted shallots and Burgundy jus:
Predictably, I went for the duck breast. Oh yes. Grilled and presented on fondant potato, buttered cabbage and sweet and sour jus. It was, surprisingly, a little bit tough, but otherwise utterly amazing. The sweet cabbage matched the rich flavour of the duck perfectly:
Look! A parcel of beans!
We did manage to fit some sort of pudding in. I just had a liqueur coffee (Kahlua, if you’re interested), but mum went for an amazing vanilla panna cotta (it’s like jelly made of milk! Why have I never had one?) and my aunt had a plum crème brûlée, with a satisfyingly thick sugar crust.
I love the Old House. I doubt this is the last time I’ll go there. Fine, it’s not for the faint hearted – about £50 a head, plus wine – but for a special occasion, it’s perfect. Quality food, a large wine selection and delightful staff. The building itself is charming with its dark wood beams and open fire places, but just mind those low ceilings!
So what are you waiting for? You can even book online at their website…
The Old House Restaurant
Tel: 01342 712222
Fax: 01342 716493
Image credits: Old House from their website, the rest are my own.
December 21, 2010 | Categories: family, food, holiday, sociable, Sussex | Tags: aunt, birthday, canapes, dad, duck, excitement, family, food, humans, I love, mum, Old House, optimism, restaurant, salmon, sociable, Sussex, wine | Leave A Comment »
Woops. It snowed. Quite a bit.
A bit of a pain – it was set to be a Sussex weekend for my family, with my mum’s big birthday meal on Saturday, and a “Christie-mas” celebration on Sunday. I got there mainly in one piece, with minimal delays (I took public transport, believe it if you will). However, Ben had to work in east London in the morning, and ended up getting to the restaurant just as we were finishing our meal.
Nothing compared to my eldest brother and his wife – based in the West Midlands, they left home at around 2pm. They phoned at around 8pm, saying they were still on the M40 and were heading back home. They got back home at 4am. Heroic, and I’m very sad they were thwarted in their efforts.
That said, the four of us (me, mum, dad and aunty) had a lovely meal (I’ll blog about that another day – knackered at the mo and not up for a foodie review) on Saturday.
On Sunday, we congregated in the living room around 9-10am, for tiny mince pieces, tea and present unwrapping. Yay! I’ll have a proper “haul” round up after “real” Christmas.
My family lay out a fantastic spread, so between then and lunch, we had bubbly and nibbles (sweet chilli prawns, tandoori chicken pieces, hard boiled quails eggs and bruschetta with dinky Belgian shrimp). Then, whilst the adults were cooking the roast, Ben and I headed outside to pester the dog.
Oops! Fell over.
I don’t think I need to explain that the Sunday roast was fantastic – beef, croquettes, parsnips, sprouts, carrots, stuffing and lashings of gravy. Followed by a flaming pudding and brandy custard (trust me, it’s champion).
I think I’m still full.
December 20, 2010 | Categories: family, food, holiday, philosophy, sociable, Sussex | Tags: animals, Christmas, dad, dog, excitement, family, food, fox, funny, gifts, holiday, humans, I love, mum, optimism, philosophy, shiny, snow, sociable, Sussex | 5 Comments »
What is it about Christmas that has made me all domestic goddessy? Last night, I was up until 1am baking for family. It was lovely, and the flat still smells gorgeous.
When it comes to baking, I like it to be simple and delicious – I like making tray bakes and cookies, because there’s no fiddleness involved. Having watched my mum assemble beautiful cakes for many years (she regularly supplies to her local coffee shop), I know how much work is involved there. I don’t know if I can hack it…
But shortbread. WOW. So, so easy. And add glacé cherries and BAM – Christmassy. And cheese twists? Make them cheese STARS instead! BAM – Christmassy. What are your favourite Christmas bakes?
I went to IKEA with the express intention of seeking out Christmas presents. I did get some Christmas presents (including the huge office chair that had to go back with my mother in her car, because there was NO WAY IN HELL I was getting it back via public transport). But I also got quite a few bits for myself. Not stuff I necessarily needed, but IKEA sells a lot of quirky, wonderful and CHEAP stuff. One thing that always pleasantly surprising is their massive range of high quality fabrics. My mum has made a lot of blinds in her house with IKEA textiles (I inherited the crafty gene from my ma), but I personally have never bought fabrics from IKEA. Well, I say never. I have now.
As soon as I set eyes on this beauty, I had to have it. You all know about my adoration of wild animals. And some of you might know that I quite like origami (pointless as it is). I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but I knew I had to have it. And at only £3.99 a metre, I COULD have it. I could justify buying it. I got 2m.
I’m thinking scatter cushions, but I would like to inject some colour into these guys. Long stitch? Fabric paints? Anyone have any ideas?
Regardless, I have it now. I’m sure whatever I make with it will look uber cool.
December 16, 2010 | Categories: art, crafts, London, sociable | Tags: animals, art, cotton, crafts, cushion, deer, excitement, fabric, I love, IKEA, magpie, moose, mum, sociable, textiles, wolf | 2 Comments »