Sunday, 26 June 2011

Weekend for movers and shakers, cookers and players....

....A great weekend, just had. It began on Friday night as my football team, Tornados, gathered for a social at Edinburgh Cellars in Newington Green.

It was a particularly important one, as it signalled that we would continue for another season, (my eighth with the club I think), and with it the return of most the original core, that once made us very good. I'm very excited about it all.
On Saturday, Kelly moved in to Goldman Close - the sum of her life to date, amounting to two-thirds of a transit van!

It was a pretty swift, straight forward move and so we have a fourth member of the Goldman Close family - for a month at least, before Liam departs us. Our reward for the move was breakfast at the recently opened, A Little Of What You Fancy, which was really rather nice.

Saturday evening turned, accidentally, in to an incredibly boozy one. It was Harriet's 31st birthday so a few of us gathered at her house, and as the evening wore on, we danced and ultimately, had a mammoth karaoke fest. (Really not becoming of 30 year olds. Tutt, tutt!)

Dancing, before the singing

I over did it somewhat, both musically, (I believe R Kelly was my swan song), and alcohol wise. Which made Sunday all the more of a struggle for Kel and I. Although it was still a great day, beginning early with a visit to Rich, Anne & Clem. We were soon in Clissold Park, on what proved to be the hottest day of the year.


A splash in the paddling pool and a play in the park, then we were off to Gemma & Nico's flat down the road for a BBQ with friends. Their terrace the perfect sun trap.

Nico at the helm

By now, Kel & I were starting to feel the effects of very little sleep, so we headed home, although I still had an hour long footy game to play. Which was tough to say the least. But in all, a really great weekend.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Weekend away - The Old Goats House, Leyburn....

....Late last year, Mum & Dad booked a long weekend away for the family, by way of a belated birthday getaway for myself. So far away it seemed then, but here we now are, in North Yorkshire, a small hamlet called Thornton Rust, with four days of relaxation ahead.

The Old Goat House was quite literally that. We also had an outbuilding, the Piggery....yep, you guessed it. Mum, Dad, Ruth, Andy & Jude were the Old Goats. Kel and I, the pigs. We arrived on Saturday to dry, but grey weather, but that didn't stop us taking in the breathtaking views across the Dales.

We took in the surroundings before sitting to dinner, where we celebrated my 30th, (again), and also Dad's impending 62nd birthday. With the arrival of a replica Dukes Of Hazzard cake, my 4th birthday party was reprised. I also got a wonderful cooking day out at Billingsgate Market, which will be incredible. Dad snagged tickets to Warhorse, down in London, from Ruth, Andy & I.

Champagne was drunk, dinner eaten, cake & cheese had. A perfect start.
On Sunday we drove over to local village, Hawes, with it's independent shops and the Wensleydale Creamery, where I was in my element, stealing 'taster' cheese cubes of every variety imaginable.

They were even making cheese in the factory too, so we got to see that. We came back home and read the papers before Master of the Grill, Andy, set the BBQ underway, in weather just acceptable to take it. Everything from marinaded lamb, to pancetta wrapped monkfish, alongside blood sausage and more. Not a frozen burger in sight!

The champagne and wine flowed once more, before Andy, Mum, Dad and I set up on Scrabble. Unfortunately, the predictable happened - Dad won out. We ended the night fairly late, watching the precocious talent of Rory McIlroy, take his maiden US Masters title.
On Monday, our last full day, the sun shined. The Dales were lit up in all their glory.

Breakfast al fresco was followed by a trip to and walk around the Aysgarth Falls. It was a non-strenuous walk, but a beautiful one.

We returned home briefly before heading back out to local B&B and restaurant, The Wensleydale Heifer. Famed for its seafood, it really was a meal of brilliant standard. Little Jude even got a complimentary teddy out of it from the proprietor!

Stuffed, we returned back to the cottage to relax for the rest of the afternoon & evening. Still, incredibly, finding time to eat again, (including champagne of course), later in the night.
Early on Tuesday, we packed up and left - four days rest, all too quickly fading away and the prospect of work looming tomorrow.

A fantastic break together - a gastronomic treat. Must do again soon!

[full reel]

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Robin Sinha, silver shooter....

....Good friend and jolly good photographer, Robin, has gone and won himself an award for his skills. He has scooped Silver at the Prix de la Photographie, Paris competition, (PX3).

It's a hell of an award, recognising emerging talent in his field, from across 85 countries. In particular, it was his shot, "23 Brick Workers", (above), that took the plaudits. Very, very well done.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Dinner with Alice, Doug & Nick....

....(And John!)
In light of the news that Alice is soon to depart to Qatar for at least 6 months work, we decided to get the old gang back together for a mid-week dinner at Little Bay. Alice also brought along her current squeeze, John.

John, Doug, Nick, Alice

As ever, it was as though we were still rampaging the Central St. Martins hallways together, like all those years ago. Except over decent food & wine. A really good evening and a perfect send off from us to her.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Cousin catch up....

....On Sunday Morag and I caught up, after missing each other on my birthday weekend. An express lunch at Prezzo and a good old natter was just what the doctor ordered.

A Westbury BBQ & Paddy hits 30....

....Another packed Saturday. Another BBQ. Another 30th birthday. Not that we're complaining of course. First, Phil & Nicky hosted a late afternoon barbie, at their lovely Stoke Newington home.

Food was a plenty, and it was a bit of a baby-fest initially too, making it all the more fun.

I left Kelly to dance the night away and moved on to Clerkenwell to meet Paddy & friends to celebrate his birthday at The Three Kings.

We moved on to the Slaughtered Lamb for afters, but not before Pads had blown out all the (one) candles on his cake!

He huffed, and he puffed......

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Birthday aftermath & Bond hits 30....

....I managed to get away without a severe hangover this morning, largely helped by a visit to Hackney Farm with Kel & the Newcastle boys. The full English was well received.

Tucking in

Told you!

After our food we wandered around the farm in the glorious sunshine, before heading on to Broadway Market. Thereafter, the guys, (bar Paul), had to head back to Newcastle.

Happy as pig in shit

Later in the evening, the birthday celebrations continued. Not my own, but Nick Bond's - also his thirtieth.

Mr Bond

He celebrated at Worship Street Whistling Shop, a unique bar mixing 'Victorian squallor with grand Gin Palaces'.

Here we drank sublimely concocted cocktails and ate some excellent food.

Huge rock oysters

Massive pork pie

It was a great evening, a slower, more dignified pace than the frantic nature of mine the night before. And I think that was welcomed by all!

Nick, Bond & Liam

Happy Birthday Nick, welcome to the club!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Roy hits 30....

....So, after many posts regarding friends turning thirty, it is finally my turn. And what a day I had. It started with opening cards & presents with Kelly.

[Colombian bought trousers not available for re-sale. Sorry]

I did extraordinarily well. From Kelly I got a beautiful rucksack and a unique 1940s lamp. And there was much more besides - everyone was incredibly generous. And with presents ranging from hand-knit cushions, to rare wines, it seems that turning 30, really does mean, 'growing up'.

Kelly had an additional surprise lined up for me, and as we both had the day off, we cycled further East to a gastropub, The Gun. And what a nice surprise. Neither of us had eaten there before, but only ever heard good things.


We were blessed with an incredibly sunny day, and ate on the adjoining terrace, at the affiliated Portuguese restaurant, A Grelha. Sitting right on the Thames, overlooking the Millennium Dome, we had a fantastic meal of grilled meats & fish, before heading back to The Gun's balcony for dessert and coffee. A perfect birthday lunch.

And the day didn't end there. The birthday celebration proper, took place in the Smithfield Tavern, where friends gathered for what proved to be a boozy, but immensely fun evening.

The night brought out old friends, school friends, work friends, family friends, football friends and new friends. It went on until 2am, when everyone scattered, (and I, drunkenly retired with Kel!).

A fantastic day, a fantastic evening and a fantastic age to be. Thank you to everyone for coming, for cards, presents, drinks that you brought and bought. It's hugely appreciated and flattering and I had an incredible time.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Roy's birthday dinner....

....As has become tradition on our birthdays, Nick, Richie and I went out to dinner. My treat was a great feed at Giant Robot in Clerkenwell.

It's American-style tapas on the menu, so we mostly ate sliders & fries.

[We ate the sliders & fries, so this is the bruschetta & cheese board!!]

Richie, Nick, Roy

For dessert, Richie recommended Baked Alaska, which neither Nick & I had eaten before. We were soon to be pleased!

Flaming wonder

Pretty boys

After dinner, we decided, (of course), that cocktails would be a good idea. They were of course.Very good.

As ever it was a great meal with great friends. Long may it continue. (And it will, in a month, for Richie's 30th!)