Sunday, 26 December 2010

Going, Going, Gone....

....From today there will be no blogging for month. As many of you know, Kelly and I are lucky enough to be spending four weeks in South America, taking in Argentina, (Buenos Aires/Mendosa/Iguassu Falls), Brazil, (Rio), Colombia, (Santa Marta/Cartagena). The reason we are going I mentioned in a previous post, so look here to familiarise yourselves.

Happy New Year. See you in 2011!

There will be a big blog update on our return in late January, but now we will have to leave for warmer climes. See you soon! x

Christmas 2010....

....A somewhat brief festive period back in Newcastle this year, as I arrived on Christmas Eve afternoon and left with the cockerel crowing on the morning of 27th. Christmas Eve was spent with the Clive and the (extended) family at his house before I met up with Chris for a quick couple of drinks in the Lonsdale.

Christmas Day followed our familiar routine, with Ruth and Andy driving up from Leeds that morning, before heading off to Church. The Brannens joined us at ours afterwards before we left one another for our respective Christmas dinners. Andy and Mum joined forces to great effect as usual, producing a five course extravaganza. Starting with asparagus veloute (soup), we ate scallops with pea puree & bacon, then a main of a three bird roast, (turkey / duck / chicken), before finishing off with cheese and mum's classic roulade.

Marvellous. A bout of Skype calling followed, plus a nap (of course) before heading back down to the Brannens for an evening of drinks and games. A great day, as usual.

(full reel)

On Boxing Day, after a relaxing morning, we all went for a walk along the snow covered sea front.

Friends Kate & David dropped by, before Clive (and the same extended family), came to spend the evening with us. A usual buffet, games and home-made quiz from Dad made for much fun and laughter. Another really good day.

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I finish writing this before getting some sleep and heading back down to London tomorrow, ahead of Kelly and I flying out of Heathrow the same evening. A month of warmth and adventure awaits us. Woop!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas comes early....

....Kelly and I celebrated our Christmas together a few days early, before she returns home to Cambridge and myself to Newcastle. We stayed in for the evening, eating in style with an all too familiar, but totally tasty Turkish from Tas Firin.

We treated each other well on the present front, with my highlight being a great pair of camel coloured cord trousers, by Norse Projects.

Amongst other things from me, Kelly finally got a pair of Converse and Ray Bans for our forth coming holiday.

Now we both have to do it all over again, (oh, the chore!), with our families, before returning to London on 27th to pack, do an about-turn, and head to Heathrow to leave the City behind for a month.

Exciting times!

Monday, 20 December 2010

69 Christmas dinner 2010....

....This year's instalment was with the familiar crowd. The 69ers, in Doug, Liam and I, plus partners in Ross, Kelly and Nick. (The latter reprising last year's role in the absence of an 'official' partner for Liam). After an aperitif in the Slaughtered Lamb, we ate over the road at Giant Robot in Clerkenwell. It is an Italian / American tapas bar, well styled, well staffed and well good in terms of food.

Nick, Doug, Ross, Liam, Kelly.

We loved our sharing dishes, ranging from meat balls and sliders, to cheese boards and seared tuna. After our fill there, we returned to the Lamb, before heading over for a late night digestif at Life bar. (I wouldn't recommend the latter, despite it's late opening hours, purely on the basis of it's customer service, as I was told to, "F*** off bitch", after asking for a half pint to be replaced that had been cleared by an over eager member of staff.) Charming.

We left soon after, but it didn't affect a really fun xmas celebration.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Newcastle weekend with Ben....

....I booked tickets a few months ago for Ben and I to go up to Newcastle. Largely because the tickets were such good value, but also to get Ben out of the familiarity of Islington and into the realisation that Newcastle is a wonderful place. Two days later, I suspect he agreed. After arriving late on Friday, we crashed out. On the Saturday we braved the icy chill down on the seafront, our reward being a cuppa and a scone in the ever marvellous Rendezvous cafe. After lunch we went up to town and specifically down on to the Quayside, to take on the river, bridges, Baltic and Sage spectacles.

After a quick pint in a true Geordie boozer, the Crown Posada, we returned home. Later that evening we met with Tom for a few local pints. On the Sunday, the snow had finally hit, but it didn't stop Andrew driving us in to Tynemouth. We visited the market, then walked on to Crusoe's for a warming beverage. After a hearty home made dinner from mum, we made off to the station to catch the train back to London, only to be told it, (and all others), had been cancelled. With neither of us working on the Monday, we decided to retreat back home, stay the night and make our journey the following day. (Which we managed successfully).

Despite that slight hiccup, it was a great weekend - relaxed and a good introduction for Ben. (The Bigg Market will, thankfully, have to wait for another time!)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Jem hits 30 with the Secret Ingredient....

....To celebrate her birthday, Jem gathered everyone in a random lounge in the back end of Stoke Newington. I kid you not. For it is here that the tenant of a shabby council flat has turned his lounge in to a restaurant every Wednesday night.

Feasting on a 10 course taster menu, (of only occasional success), we took over the whole room, brought our own booze and were waited on. It was, we all concurred, one of the oddest experiences of our lives, not least because of the totally unglamorous, (nay, rather unkempt), surroundings and the stray cat that seemed to want to share our dinner with us.

The food got better as the meal went on, but I wouldn't necessarily rush to recommend the experience, despite loving the premise of 'The Secret Ingredient'. Still despite all that, we managed to have a lovely time together in a strangers lounge and we all celebrated with Jem accordingly. Cheers!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas pizza with Matt & Tess....

....Matt & Tess landed in London today and to show absolute sympathy with their jet lagged selves, we organised a dinner, with Phil and Maddi at Pizza East.

Tess & Matt

A perfect table by the window, over looking the East London Line was a great backdrop to a feast of brilliant anti pasti and wholesome pizza.

Maddi & Phil

Kel & Roy

A lovely evening together, (particulalry as we won't see them for about six months, aside from an xmas day Skype call!)

Merry Xmas guys!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

X Factor Live final....

....Today saw the live final of X Factor. Yes, that's right. I've been watching and, admit it, so have you.


Hannah & Max decided to throw a dinner party in celebration, where we were encouraged to dress in an X Factor theme.

Cher & Simon

Richie, (as Wagner) and Max, (as Cher) stole the show, with Hannah and Lynn manning it up as Simon Cowell.


Both Doug and I suited it up to do our best Dermot impression, and Liam looked startlingly similar to one or both of Jedward.



The show itself was a long, fattening, overdrawn affair, with a result of Matt Cardle winning, followed by Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction. In truth, the top two are actually very good singers, worthy of the likely fame that will ensue. But now it's over for another year, I think I will just about survive. Just. Merry X-MAS!

Nick birthday dinner (reprise)....

....Long after his actual birthday, a promised dinner between Nick, Richard and I took place.

Nick chose Inamo on Wardour Street, where menus are projected on to your table, from which you choose and order your food.

The image of your selection is projected on to your plate, controlled by the circular mouse, bottom right.

Pretty nifty. And the food was very good too.

The evening went on to be a pretty late one, but what else would you expect for (another) birthday celebration?! Cheers.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas Social....

.....Aimee pulled off a remarkable feat of organisation, (that I would have been very proud of!), by gathering more than 20 of us for Christmas dinner and drinks last night.

We got together in the Smithfield Tavern for what turned out to be a late, but fantastic evening.

Pull the other one

(Full reel):

Friday, 10 December 2010

Reverting to Type....

....Richie has stepped up his typographic game.

For a few years now he has been collaborating with Graham Bignell & New North Press to create beautiful, much sought after letterpress posters. Together they have now conceived, curated and created an exhibition full of new work from collaborators world wide. If the 'Reverting to Type' Private View, at Standpoint Gallery, was anything to go buy, it is a wild success, and should hopefully allow it to become an annual exhibition.

Read more here, see Richie's blog here and his website, here. Following, a few of us grabbed a bite to eat around the corner at Busaba to discuss the finer points of ligatures, serifs and kerning.

Alice, Doug, Harrie, Rich, Lynn, Liam

Oh, and make sure you visit the show....and if you like, buy a few too! Congratulations Richie.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

AMV Christmas Party....

....This year was a more opulent affair, with a, (slightly obvious and perhaps too well tread), Mad Men theme, held at Molton House. The theme allowed for the ladies to look truly spectacular, courtesy of hair & make-up stylists working there socks off throughout the day to satisfy demand. The chaps got to don their favourite suits, perhaps spray their hair grey a la Roger Sterling and there were certainly more spectacles on show than I'd seen before. Entertainment was provided by the truly exceptional AMV Band, followed by enough music and dancing to tire the most energetic of us.

A great celebration of the year and to see in Christmas. (I'm writing this from an empty floor, mind, so not sure how much work will get done today......)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

List my photo: Update 6....

....The latest produce from my more discerning eye, can be found here.

Check them out!

Monday, 6 December 2010

New bikes....

....Kelly and I have recently both purcahsed new bikes, using the Cycle Scheme at work.

Black out

I decided to get a road bke - not for the daily commute, but for the cycling holidays I hope to make and perhaps even the odd race. It is a Planet X Pro Carbon SRAM Red, and is rather nice!

Kelly plumped for an off the peg single speed, with the Focale 44 Full Moon. Subtle, classy, fast. Just like her owner.

We're looking forward to the saddle sore!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Smile, you're on Google....

....A wonderful aggregator photography site by serial digital artist and nuisance Jon Rafman. The Nine Eyes of Google amasses images taken from Google Street View cameras, but distills them in to the more unique, funny, intriguing and sometimes gruesome selects, that show a true 'state of the world today' view.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Mum & Dad in London (Winter edition)....

....Mum and Dad came down this weekend, apparently the first near Christmas visit that they can remember. After lunch at Nude and a wander around Spitalfields, we returned home before heading out to dinner at La Petite Auberge, on Upper Street.

Bon appetit!

On Sunday, we had breakfast at local favourite Albion, then wandered over to Raven Row Gallery to see the Hilary Lloyd exhibition, (complex installations of audio visual equipment, transmitting films of not much). At least the building itself was a joy to be in, two former Hugenot houses, knocked together and restored. That afternoon I rustled up a prawn & chorizo risotto for everyone before we headed over to the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Mum had booked us tickets to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform Schubert, Beethoven & Mozart selected concertos. Having never been inside the Hall, even our seats toward the rear, offered a phenomenal view, with astounding acoustics. The concertos were brilliantly performed and reminded me that I don't listen to enough of this music. A perfect end to a Sunday evening by the Thames, and another great weekend.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Victoria hits 30....

Victoria turned 30 yesterday and celebrated with drinks, (and plenty of them), at The Alibi in Dalston.


Lovely to see some old faces again on a raucous East End night.

Nick and Tom

Ems and Kel


Saturday, 27 November 2010

Susie hits 30....

....Another day, another 30th. This time, the early, (for she is a Christmas Eve babe), and surprise birthday of Susie Palmer.

Susie & Kelly

We spent a wonderful evening with Susie, her husband Ian, family and friends at the Circus in Covent Garden. In many ways a similar venue to last week, (Proud Cabaret), but in many ways, so, so much better.

James & Ian

The performances were in the shape of an acrobat, a burlesque dancer, fire throwers and a yo-yo artist(!), all performaning at intervals atop a vast concrete dining table in the middle of the room.

Tassled breasts n' all

The food was a well thought and well imagined group of sharing plates that allowed us to pick freely whilst watching everything that was going on. I'd expect nothing less of the venue, designed by the famed Tom Dixon, with the food, drink and entertainment living up to the high design of the interior.

Fire n' all

We ate and drank, sang our Happy Birthday's and moved on to a private section of the rear bar area. A really fun birthday, for a really fun girl. Many Happy returns!

Blowing out the candles

(Full reel):

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Friday Night Take Out - TESTED!...

....After blogging about this a few weeks ago, it was only right that Kelly and I road tested it. First off, I love the premise - a skilled chef taking the gastronomic staple of restaurants, and turning it in to an entirely more personal, fun affair.

Frank Hannon, an Irish former chef at Moro, was parked out side my front door tonight. On a bike. He was on his rounds, with a vast crate of food attached to a rack above his rear wheel. He passed it over, a couple of boxes, and described the best way to reheat the food. I thanked him, tipped him and wished him a safe cycle. Good old Frank.

Dinner tonight was poached guinea fowl casserole with winter vegetables and puy lentils. We reheated as directed, opened a bottle of rouge and Kelly and I bedded in and thoroughly enjoyed our winter feast. Far better than your average take away. But then this was a Friday Night Take Out. If you live in East London, look him up and see if he will deliver to your area. It's worth it.