Posts Tagged ‘lunch’

The time we went to see the penguins

When I was 18, I decided that Africa would be a good idea. And so I moved there. I lived in a little town called Luderitz on the Namibian coast and loved it. My friend Lucy and I worked hard producing the local town newspaper and working in some of the schools.

We had been there a few months when it was time to decide what to do for Christmas. A whole load of other volunteers were heading to Cape Town for it and before leaving England, I had had this romantic idea in my head of climbing Table Mountain on Christmas morning and sitting on the top sipping a hot chocolate. It was decided then. We would head to Cape Town and join in the fun.

It was lovely. It was a lovely way to spend our first Christmases away from home. At the Long Street Backpackers, where we stayed, all the guests gave about £3 each and a few people went to the shop and got loads of food and we all sat round a massive long table, relative strangers, and had a wonderful muddled Christmas day together. Later that evening, we got it into our heads that everyone needed to be thrown into the pool. And so everyone was thrown into the pool. Fabulous.

We weren’t exactly partying hard or anything but we were letting our hair down after an intense few months. One night, we went to a club called Jo’burg and this one girl decided she was going to have a ‘dance-off’ with one of the local South African guys. We recoiled in horror and ran off, leaving her to her own silliness in the club. So you see, we were being a little bit silly.

One day, however, we decided to have a more sedate day. We were a bit tired from the partying and felt a little off-kilter being around strangers at a time when people were usually with their families. We withdrew from it all and made a plan to get the train out to Simonstown, about an hour away, and walk along the coast a little and see the penguins. There was a massive colony there, apparently.

We boarded the train and made the journey but, given our state of tiredness, were struggling not to nod off. By the time we got to Simonstown, we kind of wanted another sit down. We walked along the seafront with its lovely old high street and started our walk out to see the penguins. It was going to be half an hour’s walk. After about five minutes, we spotted a cafe and agreed en masse, that sitting down and having lunch was quite quite necessary if we were going to make this walk.

And sit down we did. We ordered most of the things on the menu and scoffed them then had to sit very still for fear of exploding. One of the group had developed a crush on the waitress so of course we lingered for longer.

By the time someone was brave enough to mention finishing the walk out to see the penguins, the rest of us kind of looked at our watches and huffed and puffed a bit and said we didn’t know if we’d make it there and back in time for the train back (I’m sure we would have, it was mid afternoon, not midnight) and our little legs certainly didn’t want us to go.

So we walked the five minutes back to the train station and got the train back to Cape Town.

That’s what happened the day we went to see the penguins.

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One hello and one goodbye

Let’s start with the goodbye first. It’s a goodbye to my faithful little HTC phone. I have had lots of happy times with it. It has served me well for time telling, text messaging, phone calling, photograph taking, WordPress posting, Facebook checking and many other exciting things.

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It was my first phone with a big screen. Previously, I’d been all into the clicky-buttons phones, sniffing haughtily at these ‘fancy new phones’ that were like mini computers. Just get a computer, thought I.

Well! I needed an upgrade as my clicky-buttons phone was caving in from oldness. The extremely young looking boy in the shop convinced me to get a big-screen phone. And it was like a revolution in my mind! What’s this? I can play music? And watch YouTube? And see when there are comments on my blog? And check emails? And play a game where you kind of tip the phone up and a little ball rolls around? Epic!

I was immediately converted. I jumped into the big-screen-phone gang with both feet.

And then, um, I, um, I kept dropping it. Um. Yeh. And it slowly got less and less efficient. And I kept needing photographs of every. little. thing. And it started going really slowly because I had taken a thousand million hundred photos (approx.). And I had had it for over two years which, in phone years, is, like, I dunno, a million years or something?

On Thursday, it was time to address this issue. This old-battered-phone issue. I went in the shop prepared for a lot of chitchat and signing things. Ten minutes later, I emerged with a beautiful slick Samsung SomethingOrOther which I love. I don’t have the history that I have with my HTC but the early signs of love are brewing in my heart for this new beautiful Samsung.

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Now for the hello. It’s a big hello to the new Whole Foods in town.

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I tried, people! I tried to be like, “Urgh! Whole Foods! They’re so big and take-over-the-world-y.” But then I went in there and I quite liked it. I was mighty confused about what to get for lunch because there was so much being thrown at me. I could have hot/cold/salad/soup/burger/burrito/fruit/biscuits. I just didn’t know where to look. I picked up a yoghurt after a while and wandered around like a lost child trying to find my friend.

I scoffed at their silly signs about how much they’d done in the local community since arriving and complained about the limited seating.

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Then this rush of warm fuzziness rose up as if from nowhere and I realised I was loving the new Whole Foods. I very nearly bought one of their shopping bags made from recycled materials because I was so caught up in the moment. The staff were smiley and cuddly, like baby pandas. And the food looked wonderful. And the people in the fruit section were trying to offer me samples of their freshly whizzed smoothies.

And now, unfortunately, I love the new Whole Foods. Dammit.

O, I do like to be beside the sea

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to Danda!
Happy birthday to you!

Hip hip hooray and all that.

As you’ve probably guessed, it was Danda’s birthday yesterday so, in true birthday style, we ran off to the beach for the day. And it was glorious. The weather stayed warm enough to spend all day walking around but breezy enough to not be uncomfortable.

The day started with fancy lunch. I love a fancy lunch, as some of you may already know. I love fancy lunching. I love Michelin stars. I love pretty food.

This lunch did not disappoint.

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It started with bread, after which we were presented with calf’s tongue with piccalilli. Did I ever mention how much I love the free extras at nice restaurants?
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We had the same starter, a leek and potato soup with white truffle cream. My goodness, do I love a truffle! I love a truffle. I went crazy for this soup. It was really really good with some of the fresh bread dipped into it.
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Next up, Danda’s main was mackerel with mashed potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.
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Mine was a confit duck leg on a bed of lentils and bacon with cavolo nero and thinly cut, fried potatoes.
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It was easily the best duck I’ve ever eaten. It was so soft and fell off the bone without any resistance at all. The skin, which I worried about because it can be quite fatty and disappointing, was crispy and beautiful. The jus was fantastic too. I just ate and ate and hoped it would never end. Sadly, it did so off we went, out into the daylight, to seek our next adventure.

We found it on the Brighton Wheel, looking down at the seaside town from the sky.
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We then went for the longest walk ever in search of the Naturist Beach. O, what? Wait. I mean. I meant. I didn’t mean we went looking for it. I meant we were walking and then we saw it. By accident.

There was one bloke with a cap on chatting to a fully dressed couple and that was it. Disappointing.

We headed out to the marina to see what fun could be had there.
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There were a lot of generic could-be-anywhere shops near the marina so we decided to wander back to the beach but not after spotting an amazing ‘5D’ ride thing that we just had to go on. It was one of those rollercoaster simulator things and it was really good. We got given 3D glasses and were splashed with water or blown with wind. It was fast and furious and I yelped quite a lot!

We finished the day by splashing about in the water and lying on the beach looking at the sky.
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Sorrel soup, rye bread and bluebells (or: Back to my spiritual home)

“Every day is like a day on the farm. Every meal is a feast. That’s a day in the Marine Corps.”

Well, not the Marine Corps at all. My favourite farm.

What’s that you say? You don’t have a favourite farm? Pffft. All the cool kids have a favourite farm. And mine is Waltham Place.

I went there in March on a fruit preserving course and had been itching to get back. Since getting my groceries from Abel and Cole, I am totally on the soup scene, for using up the leftover vegetables the day before my new delivery. So when I saw the soup and bread course, I booked myself in straight away!

After my last traumatic journey to the farm, this time around was relatively easy. In fact, on the bus to the farm, I saw the exact same two ladies who had rescued me last time and went and thanked them again.

Arriving at the farm, I saw the familiar faces of Nikki and Adrian, who run the courses. You feel you are in safe hands as they gently take control, ensuring everyone has tea and biscuits and helping the group of strangers to gel.

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We got straight into some chat about what makes good or bad bread, the fact that bread has been around for thousands of years and about mixing your dough with the end of the wooden spoon.

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Apparently that’s how the Italian grandmothers in Tuscany do things!

I mixed and kneaded and shaped and then left it to prove in the warm kitchen….

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…before starting on some sorrel soup.

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I’ve not eaten – and certainly never cooked with – sorrel so I was a little nervous but Adrian ripped off a leaf tip and got munching, encouraging me to do the same. And it was surprisingly tasty – lemony but not sharp. More like a salad dressing which had been made with lemon. It was bursting with flavour. I couldn’t believe I’d never eaten it.

After making and straining the soup…

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…the bread was also finished proving and baking. Mine was a rye bread made with a sourdough starter Adrian had been brewing up for five days.

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We each then quickly threw together another loaf. I did a plaited white loaf next (which I got started on before I could photograph it, sorry!).

Then we had a fabulous lunch of our own soups and a previously baked loaf for dipping. It was so good. Sorrel soup, people! It’s the way of the future! Lemony but savoury. It didn’t need any seasoning as it has such a rich rounded flavour of its own.

Then we went for a lovely walk around the estate, which was much greener than my last visit

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The chickens!

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One of the cows! (Danda says I can have a cow, although it’s still a no on the chicken.)

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Any day now, this place will be head height with long grasses and colour!

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The Japanese garden will soon be looking lovely too.

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The lime tree lined walk.

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The blanket of bluebells starting to cover the forest floor.

We returned to the centre, oversaw the baking of our second breads (one person had decided to mark his with what can only be described as a nipple, a bread nipple, if you will….)

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…and sat down for some well earned tea and cake…

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A coffee cake on the left and a fruity tray bake on the right. Both were delicious, obviously.

A lift back to the station from a fellow course student would have finished the day off nicely, apart from the 3.5 hour journey home because of train delays. But even that couldn’t ruin the loveliness of the day 🙂

S is for….

SUN, SEA AND SAND! (actually pebbles, rather than sand but you catch my drift)

Yesterday was fabulous. Breakfast in the hotel was fresh and healthy and typically Mediterranean. We then headed down to the Marina Grande on the funicolare to take a boat trip around the island.

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The boat dipped up and down on the small waves and the water splashed in my face and it felt wonderful. I felt a million miles away from everything familiar. I was on a boat next to an outcrop of rock in the Mediterranean Sea and I could have been anywhere. It felt how you want holidays to feel. Different and exotic and exciting.

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After this, we headed out of tourist central, teeming with day trippers from Napoli, back up the hill on the funicolare to ‘our’ part of town, for some lunch. A panini type thing, with a typical Capri filling – tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil.

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We then headed to the pebble beach at the Marina Piccola to write postcards and lie about pretending we were the only people in the world.

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After a quick stop for cappuccino, we went back to the hotel and went for a quick swim to cool off from our heart-attack-inducing climb back up the hill.

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Staying on a mountain is tough on the legs! I’m very glad we brought walking boots.

We then went for dinner but the evening was rather eventful so I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.

P.S. We’ve decided that this is our new holiday home, by the way.

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A lovely day out

Yesterday, I took a cheeky jaunt up north to spend the day with family. The weather held up ok and didn’t rain until much later in the day, when we were safely hidden indoors, sipping cups of tea.

Mid-morning, we set out for a mini adventure to Frodsham Hill. Despite taking a wrong turn early on and coming out at the top in a different place than we expected to, it was lovely all the same and the sun shone bright, although it was cold.

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Midway up, I realised that I was really panting with all the stair climbing! Hard to believe I once trekked the Great Wall of China… True story.

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When we got to the top there was a lovely wide view of the surrounding area. With large flat areas, it’s hard to make it look good on a photo but anyway, here’s the view.

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Soon after this, we reached the WW1 memorial….

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…which is next door to a lovely hotel, positioned on the top of the hill so that, if you get a seat by the window, you can have lunch with the beautiful view. We had planned to have lunch there yesterday but they have a no-lunches-at-the-weekend rule so we wandered back down the hill via the roads and found a nice little country pub serving food (I was upset by their lack of apostrophes though).

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After waiting quite a while for the food to arrive, I got the breaded duck’s egg with pancetta…

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….and the Thai crab cakes with lime

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After this, we headed back to the car, again making a slight directional error which took us off down a different road and we came out quite far from where we needed to be but it was nice to be outside walking so we didn’t mind.

Also, we found a place called Castle Park, a National Lottery funded thing which had, amongst other things, a children’s art centre. We found some of this new ‘graffiti’ knitting stuff too. Has anyone else heard of this?

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People knit colourful strips then put them around things, like here on a post or maybe a bollard, to brighten the place up! It officially counts as graffiti but as it’s quite pretty, the police are ‘overlooking’ it for now. I kind of want to get into this!

After all this, we drove back, put the kettle on and settled in for an evening of Grand Designs Australia, which was actually quite interesting, before I jumped on the train to London.

A dream I had last night

I had a strangely long and obscure dream last night. It went like this.

My friends, Sophie and Jay, and I were in Australia. We were travelling and having an adventure type of holiday. I remember us going to a shopping arcade place which had those cloth bag things which are brightly coloured and part of the general attire of people who have recently returned from a gap year. At one end was really expensive stuff so we never went to that end.

Suddenly it was our last day and we had to get our flight home at 2.15pm. It was only a few hours off and I started to panic. Sophie and Jay didn’t seem too worried and next minute, we were doing that thing I’ve seen on TV, where you have suction pads on your hands and feet and you climb up the side of glass buildings. I had the hand bits and was climbing up and when I got to the top, Sophie and Jay were already there somehow.

When I started looking for the suction things to climb back down I couldn’t find the feet bits and I started to panic again because I thought we’d miss the flight. I really didn’t want to miss it because if we had to buy tickets to get the next flight it would cost at least £70 (!).

Somehow we were back down the side of the building and it was 1.15pm and we rushed back to the hostel where we were staying and asked the people at the desk there if it would be faster to go by train or taxi. They said taxi so I ran to the room to get my backpack. The other two already had theirs with them even though they hadn’t gone to get them. Such is the way of dreams ….

When I came back to the reception, Sophie and Jay weren’t there. They had gone for lunch somewhere. I panicked. I saw their bags but there was only an hour til the flight. I didn’t have time to wait for them! I ran outside, flagged down a passing taxi and jumped in.

I got to the airport with ten minutes to spare, yelling at them to hold the plane. I checked in and started to run to the gate but it was really just one big room with one gate. So I just stood there and one side of the building was glass so I saw a small plane come in and land on a grassy area right next to the building. The other passengers and I marvelled at its smallness. There were only about twelve seats.

We walked out to get onto the plane but suddenly there was a swampy bit we had to cross so we got wet up to our knees. I also realised that in my rush I had forgotten to check my bag in so hoped no-one would notice it.

As I got on and sat down and strapped, Soph and Jay were there too and Jay was pregnant. She had been pregnant the whole time, I think, but I had been unaware of it for some reason. And Sophie was saying to me, “I can’t believe you left us,” and I was going, “Well, I looked for you all over. If you two were going to be stranded in Australia, there was no point me being stranded there too, just for the sake of it.”

They seemed especially annoyed that I had left them with Jay being pregnant.

We were just strapping ourselves in and having this discussion when my alarm beeped and when I opened my eyes, I was genuinely surprised that I wasn’t on a plane.

Strange.

Analyse that, psychologists.