Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Last of the Autumn

{or, how many different types of fungi can you spot on a single walk?}

M and I walk up to Hampstead, Saturday morning two weekends ago. Grab a flat white (him) and a hot chocolate (me) from Ginger and White then head onto Hampstead Heath.

It is as though the autumn is giving a final fanfare, going out in a blaze of glorious colour and light. And the mushrooms! So many mushrooms, in such a range of colours and shapes. We visit the pergola first, beautiful as ever, with its creeping vines and views over the treetops. Then we cross the road to the bigger part of the heath, and walk and walk, and take photograph after photograph of fungi, brown leaves, sunlight falling between the trees. I feel like I have stepped into the pages of a book, Lord of the Rings, or Hansel and Gretel, where the trees are huge and ancient, and toadstools sprout overnight from damp leaf mulch. For most of the walk we are alone, spotting dog walkers in the distance perhaps, or hearing the shouts of children between the trees, but mostly just the two of us. I am reminded again how lucky we are to have these vast green spaces in the middle of our city.

We finish the walk with cider and a pint in the Dickensian Holly Bush, and in the evening eat at the Chiswick Franco Manca where the pizzas are tasty and the bill always reasonable. Later, a house warming in a beautiful flat in Baron's Court, all tiled fireplaces and high ceilings, drinking perry and catching up with university friends.


Last weekend was a hasty visit to Norfolk to see my sister in a play (she rocked), then a dash back down to London for the Bust Christmas Craftacular, selling jams and 'Sisterhood' tote bags next to the amazing Rob Ryan. Photos from that will go on the Shoreditch Sisters WI blog at some point.

So, last of the autumn posts done. December I am ready for you.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Autumn weekends V

Then we are into mid November and everywhere you look men are growing moustaches. We go to some engagement drinks near Fleet Street, then afterwards on to a Ocean's Eleven (1960 version) party in London Fields, walk past the city of tents outside St Paul's Cathedral on the way between the two, dressed in jewels and furs, the juxtaposition is strange. Saturday breakfast at Made in Camden, a recent discovery but a good one, spiced chickpeas, saffron yoghurt and eggs, banana buttermilk pancakes, poached strawberries. Another discovery is Goldhawk Road where I go to buy fabric for upcoming Christmas craft fairs - so many fabric shops on such a short stretch, but they just blow me away with the variety of colour and pattern. An afternoon spent crafting at an old school friend's in south London, we sit and stitch, eat buttered crumpets, watch 'Singing in the Rain' (which I hadn't actually ever seen before), dog at our feet. Just what I needed after a manic week. In the evening it's out east for Vietnamese on the Kingsland Road with some friends, then to a bar for margaritas before making it to the most wonderful cocktail bar, hidden in a small basement, great atmosphere, quiet enough not to have to shout, cocktails delicious, barmen all sporting very dapper moustaches. I'll post about it soon. The night air is misty when we finally emerge. A Sunday walk across Primrose Hill and Regent's Park, the farmer's market, another afternoon needle and thread in hand. In the week, craft nights, returning to my old work for another colleague's leaving drinks, baked Camembert for dinner, and I am reminded all over again why this is my favourite season.


I am trying desperately to catch up on all my autumn posts before we slip into December. Today the Shoreditch Sisters were at Bust Christmas Craftacular sharing a table with the legend that is Rob Ryan (he is amazing!!), and so already feeling the Christmas twinges, need to get all the browning leaves, laced up boots and Hampstead Heath fungi out the way before things get too festive round here.

Friday, 25 November 2011

London Love: Mien Tay

122 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DP

Second up for my London Love posts had to be food related, this time heading out East.

I only discovered the string of Vietnamese restaurants on the Kingsland Road last year, but I've been a frequent visitor ever since, and Mien Tay has to be one of the best of them. Less glossy than some of the others perhaps, but the food is what we go for, and the food is goooood. Crispy spring rolls, or translucently wrapped fresh rolls, clay pots with Vietnamese curries thick with coconut, stir fried morning glory, peppered squid, bowls of pho. Prawn crackers to start and orange segments to finish. It is BYOB which is another bonus, especially pre-night out in Shoreditch.

One word of warning: it gets very busy on a Friday or Saturday night, so either book ahead or be prepared to queue. (Or go to M's homeland and visit the recently opened branch in Wellingborough, which apparently is just as good, and far less busy)