Monday, 29 August 2011

Bev, Tan, Mark & Leah in London....

....Kel's mum Bev, partner Tan, brother Mark and niece Leah came to London today. It was a brief but fun day, as we walked to Hackney Farm just after they arrived.

Who farted? Leah, Bev, Mark & Tan decide.

We decided to all get aboard Boris Bikes, to make our way to the South Bank for a stroll. It was a fun cycle, and a much better way to see the City on our way.

Mark leads Leah, Bev & Tan

We wandered the length of the South Bank and passed through the Tate Modern turbine hall, before walking back over to St Pauls and catching a return bike home. After a brief rest bite, we picked ourselves up and off to Stringray Globe Cafe for a pizza dinner, before they all had to leave.

Tan, Bev, Mark, Roy, Kel, Leah

A lovely day, when the weather was in our favour for this long overdue catch up.

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Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Breakfast Club......

....Except it was well in to lunch time before we got together here and got a seat. Hannah, Harrie, Max, Joss, Ems G, Kel and I had an impromptu catch up over some food and shakes in Islington.

Han, Max & Kel: Suckers

Despite only having just eaten, I managed to feed myself some delightful peanut butter on toast.


The others rightly tucked into heartier breakfast fare.

Han & Harrie aren't so sure...

Kel and I retreated home, after parading around the vintage & antiques shops, and plonked ourselves on the couch for a well deserved night in. And what night in would be complete without the X Factor and a curry? So, that's what we did.

Double justice. What Saturday's were made for.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Dinner with Ems....

....Ems gathered us all in South West London, at a house in which she is currently staying with friends. In their absence, it was the perfect opportunity for a dinner party at a home that was grand beyond all proportions I had ever seen.


She treated a host of us to a wonderful Moroccan meal of lamb, squash and salad, which had followed a whole host of mezze.


The dinner was incredible and for dessert was (yet another) crumble. (This non-summery summer of ours is meaning the crumble is out earlier than ever this year)


After the food, the music was cranked up and we danced and even pulled out the table tennis table!

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In the morning, we were treated to a fry-up and read the papers with the concertina door pulled back, whilst basking in the sun. Perfect. Thank you Ems for a wonderful evening.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dinner with Rich & Anne....

....Richie and Anne welcomed us in to their new home, with Clem already tucked in, upstairs.

Rich, Nick, Kel, Anne

Nick joined us too, at their place in Stoke Newington, where Richie cooked up a storm.

Roast seabass in capers, onions, olives and tomatoes, with new potatoes and samphire. Followed by a crumble special. Mmm.

A lovely evening and glad to see them finally settled in a house after such a long, nomadic time.

Lounge view

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Super 8....

....The mix of Spielberg and JJ Abrahams, with a bit of 80s nostalgia, (that this movie apparently oozed, despite being set in 1979), meant Kel and I couldn't resist checking this out.

What we hadn't anticipated, (although with Abrahams at the helm we should have), was the alien angle. It's a mad, aliens, 80s, kids, fantasy, epic, ET-mixed-with-Goonies, children-will-love-it-and-some-adults-will-too adventure.

Unfortunately though, Kel and I aren't mad on aliens. In fact, we hate them. But the kids cast in this film are charming and infectious enough to make us stay with it. We want them to win. We hang on their dialogue.

kids today, eh?

It should just be a fun film. "For all the family". But occasionally it drowns in seriousness, that it needn't. But on the whole, it's a welcome and long overdue return of a genre of film that belonged when I wore pyjamas to bed. Worth a watch. (Particularly if you like aliens).

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Mens Meal Mk.3....

....The third in what is sure to be a long series of meals together.

Bond, Bugs & Liam

Organised by Joss, we took a cycle convoy up to Hampstead, where we went for a dip in the men's pond. It was empty, surprisingly and the water pretty warm, (also surprisingly). So we took advantage of the spring board and splashed around for 45 mins.

Bugs, Richie & Joss survey the scene

It was a great way to start the day. We then walked through the leafy Heath, up to The Spaniards, where a table was booked for lunch. Greeted by an English menu, we tucked in to hearty fare, as the rain began to fall outside.

It was great to all catch up again, but as the rain cleared, I said my good byes and cycled to meet Nick & Ivvet at the National History Museum. We went to the Sexual Nature exhibition - an unusual curation, focusing on animal sexual behaviours.

It was small, but interesting - and at times rather amusing. Afterwards we went for a coffee and a good old natter for ourselves.

Nick & Ivvet

A fantastic day of long over due catch-ups, food, swimming and cycling. Brilliant.

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

A weekend with Ruth, Andy & Jude....

....Kelly and I got the train up to Leeds this weekend to see Ruth, Andy & Jude. The young boy is already 5 months old, incredibly, and changed so much since we were last here.

After a catch up at home in the morning, Kel & I spent a couple of hours in York City Centre, whilst Ruth & Andy took Jude to a friend's birthday party. That evening Andy cooked us up a great dinner. On the Sunday we relaxed before going to lunch at The General Tarleton, about an hour's drive away.

We were treated to a superb, (and stomach stretching), dinner. On arrival back to the house, there was a brief time for the papers, before Kel & I had to jump back on the train to London. As ever, time flew by too quickly, but we had a lovely time.

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Monday, 8 August 2011


....on the streets of London. Panic on the streets of Birmingham.
The third consecutive night of riots, tonight, is the worse yet, spreading throughout London and causing similar scenes in the Second City.
The death of Mark Duggan is blamed as the catalyst for recent unrest, but it seems the latest bout of disorder is mainly caused by masked youths, with only criminal damage in mind. There is no protest. It even spread through Hackney today, reaching my very own Bethnal Green Road.

Bethnal Green Road this evening.

Like nothing I've seen in my lifetime and hopefully never will again. London has an eerie presence about it today. And as someone rightly said, currently, "It's not my London".
This lady thinks so too.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Killing....

....Kelly and I have just finished series one of The Killing. I'll add at this point, that it is the original Danish series, not the US adapt. (Please only watch the former).

It is a brilliant, gripping, tense, involving, scary, complex and satisfying 20 episodes. It has left us wanting more. (So here's a tempter for series two!!)

All I can say is, watch it.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Lisa & Rory get married....

....Another day. Another wedding. This time the marriage of Lisa to Rory at The Olde Bell in Hurley, Berkshire.

The venue was beautiful, spread between three outbuildings across the high street. Pre ceremony drinks at the Malt House, were followed a lovely marriage, where Thanh and Nick were Bridesmen(!) After, we returned for drinks and a fantastic dinner.

Rory, (removing confetti) & Lisa

Dancing, as you'd imagine, ensued until the very small hours, as did the use of the photo booth!

The following day there was a wedding breakfast and a fantastic garden BBQ, back at the Olde Bell, (where many guests had stayed the night). A wonderful wedding and weekend. Congratulations Lisa & Rory!

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Friday, 5 August 2011

Dinner with Ben & Tracey....

....A long standing dinner date with Ben and Tracey finally took place today. We opted for a cheap and cheerful, (but no less tasty) Vietnemese feast at Tay Do Cafe.

Drinks followed at the Royal Oak and latterly, (and fairly briefly) at the Birdcage.

A really good catch up and fun evening, that was worth the wait. Thank you

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Catch Of The Day at Billingsgate Fish Market....

....For our 30th birthdays, both Ian's and my parents bought us a voucher for the Billingsgate Seafood Training School. Here, various daily classes are given at the market, from knife skills to educational tours.

Ian and I decided upon, 'Catch Of The Day', which seemed to roll in a bit of everything. On arrival at 6.15am(!), we were given a brief introduction to the market, then taken down on to the market floor.

Here, Barry O'Toole talked our small group through different species of fish, how to judge quality and freshness, whilst giving us the opportunity to purchase some should we want.

Barry O'Toole, Fishmongers' Company Inspector

An hour or so later, we retreated upstairs to our kitchen classroom, where we were to spend the rest of the day. First, we were served a much welcomed breakfast.

Scrambled egg & smoked salmon

We were then introduced to Adam Whittle, who took us through the species of fish we'd be preparing, from Tilapia and Gurnard, to Plaice, Mackerel and shellfish.

Adam Whittle

Adam demonstrated how to prepare each fish, then we'd return to our work stations to try and do the same. By and large, Ian and I were successful. All the while we collated fish to either take home at the end of the day, or to form part of a Merchants Fish Soup, that we would eat for lunch.

It was a really fun, fascinating and educational day - not only learning about fish, but also that the main trick is to have the right tools - like a good fish knife. Then filleting and gutting is a whole lot easier!


The fish soup was great, washed down with a welcomed glass of wine. Ian and I both bought a recipe book, before returning home, with a bag full of fish. We had planned to eat together that night, so on arrival, I prepped all the fish from my haul, and Ian & Susie joined Kel & I for dinner.

Serving up

I managed to pull off the meal like a solid pro. Now I just need to retain the skills! A great day, which I would recommend to all. (Thanks again for the present!)

[Full reel here]:

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Liam's leaving dinner....

....It seems like we're having a lot of these, but this really was to be the last one where we were all present as housemates. Moving out the following day, Liam cooked up a storm, pre-departure.


It turned out to be a treble celebration, as Doug & Ross the day prior, had signed for a new flat, to move in to in September. And Kel & I had that day finally accepted an offer on the house. Fortunately, Liam's food was fit for the celebration, with a salad starter with parma ham, swiftly followed by an epic main course.

A giant fillet of beef from the Ginger Pig, seared, roasted, then served as rare steak slices, alongside crispy potatoes and greens.

The dessert was a simple sorbet, but probably just as well after the weight of the main! The evening then descended in to some guilt free sing alongs to cheesy pop music, more wine and the inevitable cheese course.

Liam's (genuinely touching) message

A great final evening, and although he'll just be down the road, a sad loss for 69 Goldman Close, as it's era draws to a close.

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