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Let’s hit the road…

17 Feb

It feels like ages since I was last up in Scotland, even though it was only last month! Now that M and I have got a set of wheels again, we’re putting them to good use with the wee car’s first long-haul adventure to Edinburgh. I love a good road trip – any excuse to visit the Tebay services to stock up on yummy local treats and handmade ceramics. What a great weekend we had too though. We caught up with C and L (happy birthday L!) for a delicious dinner of wood-oven fired pizzas at La Favorita, which has recently reopened following a refurb – check out the light fittings, now on my wish-list for when M and I have our own home again! I also managed to finish off my latest knitting project – a neck-warmer for M, for when he’s on his bike to college. My first attempt at stocking stick, since my course with Mrs Moon last week – I’m quite chuffed with it, what do you think?

Little Miss Married neck warmer

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Sushi club goes British

28 Nov

Back from the monthly sushi club meet and tonight saw us head to Barbican, to The Jugged Hare, a gastropub specialising in British cuisine. There was a lot of meat on the menu – mutton, rabbit, venison, Pig’s head (!) – so perhaps not one for vegetarians. We all ended up trying something new: B had duck, C had quail and I tried kidneys and the portions were just right, and tasty. I probably won’t have kidneys again – not my cup of tea – but the sides (fondant potatoes and Guinness battered black pudding bites) were scrummy.

thejuggedhare.com

A house mate’s birthday to remember

11 Aug

It’s one of my house mate’s birthdays today (happy birthday) and to mark the occasion a group of us recently went out for a Chinese dinner. We travelled north of the river to the canal near Regent’s Park where, securely moored and accessed by a fairy-lit walkway, is the Feng Shang Princess. It was quiet when we got there but that didn’t matter. The atmosphere on board is lovely – attentive staff, but not so much that they’re totally in your face; beautiful views across the water, which get even better when you go downstairs to the bathroom and you’re at water level, and an extensive, and reasonably priced menu. I went for well-stuffed spring rolls to start and a tender and tasty roasted duck and ginger main course. I didn’t want it to end. Everyone else in the group in was equally pleased – Chinese restaurants in London can be so hit and miss, it’s a treat when you find one that ticks all the boxes. The Feng Shang definitely does that. And, with the ceilidh I went to for my birthday just around the corner, I’ll definitely be coming back! fengshang.co.uk

Feng Shang

The view from the Feng Shang

Feng Shang

The Feng Shang at night

 

Antiques and street markets by Edgware Road

5 Aug

Yesterday I stumbled across a lovely little street not far from Edgware Road. Church Street is a lane full of antiques shops and a wonder emporium called Alfie’s. It’s floor upon floor of retro furniture, vintage fashion, kitsch glassware and leather-bound books. I had to fight my way through the bustling Saturday street market to get there but it was worth it – and the street market was pretty fun too with baklava stalls filling the air with a sugary perfume and, amongst the usual bargainware, there were some quite nice fabric stands too.

But to Alfie’s – on arrival I immediately succumbed to the allure of the clothing – beautiful sequined flapper dresses, silk and lace gowns, and sunshine-bright patterned dresses. On the next floor, it was old-fashioned posters and adverts, beautiful pencil drawings and chinaware that caught my eye, while up one more level and I must have spent almost an hour browsing books and postcards – and their wonderful inscriptions – some of which dated back to the 19th century.

Unfortunately, I was just window-shopping – Alfie’s is pretty pricey, go to Northcote Road for antiques at more reasonable prices – so I was pleased to discover that, in contrast, the in-house cafe provided quite a bargain. Situated on the top floor, with a sunny outdoor terrace and views over the rooftops, I enjoyed a generous slab of banana and pecan cake for just a couple of pounds. The best bit was, whereas most London rooftop terraces are heaving with people, this one was near-enough deserted – a hidden gem in the heart of the city.

alfiesantiques.com

Chiswick House & Gardens

30 Jul

What a glorious weekend of weather we’ve had! For once I had no concrete plans so decided to head out for an amble along the Thames Path to soak up the sun. I was heading back towards Fulham when I saw a sign to Chiswick House and Gardens – somewhere I’ve always meant to visit. I didn’t have my English Heritage card with me (you get free access to the house if you have one) but fortunately entry to the gardens is free – and it was too nice a day to be inside anyway! The gardens aren’t massive but with cascades, ornamental ponds, obelisks, walled gardens and ample wildlife, there’s enough of interest to keep you entertained – but even without they’re just a peaceful place to while away a few hours with a paper or good book. And don’t worry about going hungry – the on-site cafe is well stocked with reasonably-priced and generously-sized cakes (I recommend the crumble cake – see the picture below).

A couple of swans with their EIGHT cygnets!

Just one of many red-eared terrapins basking in the sunshine

The crumble cake – part flapjack, part Bakewell; a wonder of goodness!

A birthday to remember!

21 Jul

Am feeling totally spoilt. It was my birthday this week (19th July) and what a fantastic time of celebrations I’ve had. From dinner with JP at Polpo in Covent Garden, which does Venetian fare with a twist, on Wednesday night, to homemade cookies, muffins, and lemon drizzle cake courtesy of my work colleagues, and a trip to see The Dark Knight Rises with post-film drinks with C on Thursday, and a night of reels and jigs with my housemates, B and other close friends at the London Ceilidh Club on Friday (I’m just back!). I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped to make this birthday one of the most special ones I’ve ever had – it truly is one I’ll always remember!

Flower – and flour! – power at the Putney WI

17 Jul

                                                             

Think of the WI and, chances are, one of the first things that springs to mind is cake sales and homemade bakes. Well, despite being up and running for over four months now, last night saw the debut cake demonstration at the Putney WI. It was worth the wait! Nikki Brown, who runs a bespoke catering and cupcake company in London (nikkibrown.co.uk), had the group captivated as she showed how to create the stunning ‘floral’ bouquets pictured above. At first I couldn’t believe they were made of delicately-iced cupcakes as opposed to real roses, and it seemed an effect I could only dream of being able to achieve by myself at home. But Nikki made assembling each bouquet look so surprisingly simple (I’m assured the icing effect is all in using the right shape of nozzle) that I’m tempted to give it a go – along with her heavenly recipe for red velvet cake that we got to taste before the meeting closed. Yum!

Fresh air, fish & chips and fun with friends

15 Jul

The Ramsholt Arms

This weekend I headed out of London for a mini-staycation! I was catching up with N, a lovely friend who I used to work with in Colchester. The plan was for pub lunches and countryside walks but, sadly, the weather wasn’t on our side. However, we weren’t going to let a little of the wet stuff spoil our plans so N and I went for an adventurous drive through Suffolk, exploring off the beaten track and down narrow lanes, instead. On our travels we stumbled across The Ramsholt Arms, an uber-friendly, traditional pub right on the banks of the River Debden. It was a beautiful setting and the rain held off just long enough for us to enjoy fresh whitebait & chips in the open air. After lunch we headed to the nearby Snape Maltings,  a warren of galleries, craft stalls, and antique shops. I picked up a set of vintage, hand-embroidered linen napkins for £1.50 – bargain!

Snape Maltings

You know it’s Wimbledon when…

25 Jun

…cafes in London cover themselves with giant-sized yellow tennis balls – as seen at Bluebird on the King’s Road. Love it!

Pulled pork and whisky at Pitt Cue

24 Jun

Sushi club on Friday with B and C and we headed to Pitt Cue, 1 Newburgh Street (pittcue.co.uk), a trendy but good value place with a short and to-the-point menu of meat, mash, and bourbon. There’s a no reservation policy so with covers of about 30 people, expect to queue – but do; you won’t be disappointed. We decided to get three different plates to share so ended up with pulled pork, lamb brisket, and house sausage with sides of marrow mash, baked beans, and slaw – the picture below doesn’t do it justice! All the food comes served in blue-trimmed white enamel ware and there’s something quite satisfying about eating from a tray-like dish. The staff were friendly, efficient and couldn’t have been more helpful when it came to describing the menu. Better still, even though covers were limited and the place packed, we never felt rushed. The whisky menu is endless so I can’t wait to go back – M will absolutely love it!

Newburgh Street