Thursday, 23 June 2011


And after all the London-ness of the last few weeks (I forgot to mention Afghanistan at the British Musuem, the most beautiful, goldest of gold jewellery, and Cria Cuervos at the BFI, a wonderful film, that lingered), there was last Saturday and Sunday in Norfolk. Cheese from the market, tiny, fiery home grown radishes. A much needed haircut. Ladybird books and china flower brooches from charity shops. Bursts of bright sunshine blanketed between thunderstorms, over-flowing water butts (welcome after the drought status that East Anglia had just been given), sowing carrot seeds in the damp earth after the rain. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the evening, a repeat, but I like the chance to ogle the costumes rather than focus on plot twists. A father's day lunch in various shades of early summer greens and creams; broad bean (from the garden) risotto made by my sister, elderflower fizz, gem lettuce, followed by the most heavenly gooseberry and elderflower fool. Sweetpeas on the dining room table, roses in the kitchen, hydrangeas on the drive. Somehow the rain-damp air makes everything smell so much more divine.

And jam. Lots of jam. So much jam making, all in anticipation of the upcoming Big Feastival and our Women's Institute tent. Sterilising of jars, boiling of fruit, bag after bag of sugar. Strawberry jam, strawberry and vanilla, peach and raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant, gooseberry and elderflower. Phew.

This weekend coming is my last free one for an age before festivals and weddings and trips away kick in, so I'm planning on taking it easy, dinner at some friends' Saturday evening, Emin at the Hayward on Sunday, a pub quiz Sunday night.

What are your plans?

Monday, 20 June 2011

London, recently

London these last few weeks. A documentary about Japan, and beetles, in a cinema in an old horse hospital near Russell Square. Discovering sherry, afterwards, in a tiny bar behind King's Cross. The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, paintings, prints, photography, architecture, a mix of famous names and unknowns. The rest of that particular weekend spent indoors, prepping for an interview. The interview itself, the weight lifted of it being over, the utter longing to be offered the job in question. Dinner in Wahaca to take my mind off waiting for news, horchata and salsa. Another full day and night waiting, waiting, in which I go to the wonderful Prick Your Finger with the WI ladies to do some knitting, remind myself that there is so much more to life than employment. A phone call on an otherwise mundane Thursday morning, being offered the job. A weekend floating on air (still am, a week and a half later). An opera in a warehouse in Hackney, very enjoyable, engaging, and I am a complete Philistine when it comes to music. Discovering The Hackney Pearl accidentally beforehand, half wishing I lived nearer, just so it could be my local. Slutwalk London with the Shoreditch Sisters, with M, with my mother. Empowering, inspiring. Flowers in my hair like Frida. A party in North London, catching up with friends who are soon to be married, drinking gin and elderflower fizz, night bus home, a spring of jasmine plucked from over a garden wall in my hand. Giving blood at work, managing the whole amount (better than last time) but fainting afterwards, feeling a nuisance. An evening at the Open Air Theatre, picnicking in the park before the play, spanakopita made by me, cookies made by C, strawberries, late afternoon sunshine. The play, Lord of the Flies, is very good, and as the sky darkens and the shadows of the trees encroach the atmosphere is savage, sinister. Cheap pizza at Italian Coffee Company near Goodge Street, a late night opening of the Wellcome Collection, where we look at the permanent collection which we haven't seen before. Friday just passed, The Architectural Association's end of year show, to see a friend's work. Bedford Square in the rain, so different from last year. Inside, packed, dripping umbrellas, stepping on people's toes but J's work is beautiful. Later on, a bar through a fridge, speakeasy style, where we have ask furtively for Henri (when we find him he tells my friend ''it's Ian actually'', which somewhat ruins the tone) to be admitted. The cocktails are good, very good, but it is busy, and the music is too loud, which I feel detracts from the atmosphere. But I think I'd go back, for the basil and St Germain cocktail alone. Later, the four of us head to Rosa's for late night Thai, drink beer, crunch spring rolls. Breakfast the next morning, golden raspberries and juicy cherries, feeling virtuous.

Oh London, you do keep me busy.

(Phew, hope everyone feels sufficiently caught up! A note on photographs, the fuzzy ones are from my phone as my big camera hasn't accompanied me on all of these excursions, and M took a couple of the Slutwalk ones: Shoreditch Sister banner; me with Snog afterwards; geranium in my hair)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Elderflower, Strawberries, Piebald Mares

Oh my little pinto beans, I have neglected you. I have not read any blogs, I am another week behind on this one, have hardly tweeted on my newly set up Twitter account. But, I had an interview I was preparing for, and now that is out the way, I can write.

The Bank Holiday weekend. Black beans and rice on the Thursday night, Mexico and The Lacuna and Frida are still inspiring me. Too many parties on Friday night - goodbye drinks for a colleague at work, darling Anna's birthday party, to which I take peanut butter cupcakes, peonies wrapped in brown paper, Saipua soap, a copy of The Lacuna for her to get lost in. East London line up to Highbury and Islington, third party in Finsbury Park, housewarming. Nightbuses home, witnessing a fight in Camden opposite The Lock Tavern, police cars, torn t-shirts, glad M is with me.

Up to Norfolk, to celebrate my sister's birthday, present unwrapping and Italian food. Elderflower hunting in hedgerows, making bottles of elderflower cordial, elderflower fizz, hoping against explosions. Punnets and punnets of strawberries, all to be hulled in preparation for jam making for our WI tent at The Big Feastival. Following a caravan down twisting lanes. A visit to some friends and their chickens again, eggs, freshly laid, stuck with bits of straw. Honey from their bees in my Bircher muesli each morning, I can taste the honeycomb. The Mellis Common, prolific daisies, piebald ponies and their foals. In the garden, the ground is hard, dry, but the poppies are still blooming, petals like crumpled skirts. I take some home with me to London, peonies and roses too, put them in vases on my bedside table and dressing table, wish I had a garden.

Monday night, it rains, M and I take our brollies and head to Spuntino, no queue, because of the time, perhaps, and the weather, perch ourselves at the bar (on the 'lovers' seat we're told - a double width barstool), eat all things deep fried and delicious from enamel dishes (deep fried stuffed olives, SO mind blowingly tasty), sip at cocktails (Clover Club, wow), watch the umbrellas go by outside.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Swans, Shakespeare

Another of the lost weekends from last month. A windswept drizzly day, grey skies, heading to Bermondsey to meet the Borough Belles WI, discuss plans for the Big Feastival. Chatting over hot chocolates in the back of a bookshop, finding out that one of them is a blog reader (I'm very chuffed). Heading to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit my grandma (Hi Nana!)(she now reads this blog via a very kind friend and neighbour of hers who prints it out for her), catching up over boxes of Thornton's chocolate and cups of tea. On Sunday, walking with Dad by the river, clouds threatening rain. The newly refurbished theatre, impressive, a bookshop on a barge, a barge with my name. Swans, dragon boat racing. A churchyard with ancient trees and mossy tombstones. A ferry across the river, a brass-rubbing centre.