July 2016 – memories

We spent almost 3 weeks in NZ in July to spend time with John and Carol. We were working part time, which meant more of a routine than our typical trip back, and maybe thats why the trip brought back memories of what seems a different life.

Most of our time was spent at John and Carol’s; enjoying the  views, working in the morning, playing cards and eating – whether it was Robbie’s childhood favourite of weiner schnitzel from the Karori butcher, roti chennai from Paratha 2 Go (a favourite from our time living in Glenmore Street) or the occasional cookie time or various NZ lollies.

We did venture out for a night away in Martinborough with lunch at Coney Wines, where food was fabulous as always and we managed to sit outside in the sunshine (though Nicola did have a blanket over her legs) and a winter christmas family dinner at Waikane.

It wasn’t all reminising though. As the kids are getting older, (and possibly noisier), its nice to spend time making new memories with them. Laser quest was a highlight with Harry just walking behind Nicola shooting at her.

We broke the trip back to London with a night in Hong Kong. It was 34 degrees in the day and a cool 28 at night, so we didn’t do much except walk off the plane trip, then sit in the shade by the pool – with its ovehang looking 28 floors down to the road. We also managed to stumble into the michelin starred Qi, House of Szechuan for dinner to have an impressive Mala Crispy Beef.

Here’s a link to some photos: http://www.rajank.com/?page_id=1164

Cycling Kent

Back in November I remember enthusiastically writing that I need to cycle 1,011km over the next 11 months to complete one of the 40 things to do while I am 40. Here we are 5 months later and i can, rather sheepishly, report that I am only 187km through and this is mainly because I rode 62km of them last weekend.

In my defence I have been waiting for the temperature to get above 5 degrees as this was supposed to be a fun thing to do, rather than something that involved me slogging through the cold and rain of an English winter. So this weekend I went out on the bike on a… cold (hey it was 6 degrees, not 5!)… rainy day (truth to be told it wasn’t only raining, it hailed for a while too)… riding through the most heavily industrial part of the loop; the London docks. Well that was my expectation going in, but you can imagine my surprise 12km in to be riding (my road bike) through 7km of farm land, climbing over gates and dodging herds of cows. That said the next 20km were heavily industrial and did not disappoint.

The second half of the ride was actually quite pretty, riding through the Thames-Medway canal system and through proper Kent countryside. However, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I could have as while I could happily ride 60km without an issue last September that was certainly not the case this April, 5 months since I last did a long ride….

Finally one bizarre fact
– right before Dartford bridge is the main sewerage plant for London, 300 hundred meters further downstream is a fishing club…

Not quite what i expected!

Dartford BridgeThat's more like it

Questa settimana è cene italiane

In order to at least try to eat healthily during the week and not take the easy route of one of the many takeaways nearby, we write a menu and shopping list for the week and then broadly stick to i, (yes that is my mother’s influence – though I haven’t gone as far as printing templates in the order of the supermarket layout, my list is broadly split into groups on the back on an envelope!).

But even with veg coming from our fortnightly delivery, at the moment, inspiration is low, so writing a menu consists of picking a theme or recipe book.

This week its Italian. Robbie’s pick, maybe inspired by his attempts to learn some Italian or maybe as the sun is out, making it feel like summer is on its way and a reminder of sunny holidays to Italy.

So thanks to some help from Jamie and Nigella, our menu is:

  • Bistecca con fagioli cannellini
  • Gamberi con limone e pangattato
  • Pasta e ceci
  • Spaghetti bolognese
  • Costolette di maiale con salvia
  • Salsicce con lentichhie e salsa di pomodoro

Emsworth

There are certain things in life that you always mean to acomplish but as they are a little rubbish, or a little too far out of the way, you never actually do them. Well today, we managed to do not one, but two of those those things.

Since my mid 20s I have wanted to eat at a Little Chef restaurant (a Heston tv show that described little chef as the worst food in the world and a similar Ben Elton routine marvelling in its crapness convinced me that this was a place I just had to go to) and it has become a bit of a running joke when we drive past services that have a Little Chef that we must stop there and sample the culinary excellence. Well today Nicola and I, in a state of tiredness (me) and illness (Nicola), actually went into a Little Chef to sample their Quick Bite menu. Like anything where you have built up high (or in this case low) expectations the event itself always fails to live up to your imaginings and unsurprisingly that was the case today as lunch ended up being a perfectly adequate mass produced meal that was quite boringly perfectly edible. Even though it was an anticlimax its a good feeling to have finally eaten there.

The second thing that I have always wanted to do is to go to the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, the best preserved Roman site in the UK. Every time I go to a Roman site I am always a little disappointed as i have high hopes of seeing an actual villa or a semi reconstruction but when we get there all that is left are foundations. Well today was no different but once I got over my initial disappointment I rather enjoyed the free tour, the mosaics and the Roman garden and I was glad we made the effort.

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At this stage you are probably wondering why the post is entitled Emsworth. The reason is the we ended the day at a B&B in the rather pretty town (or at least from what we could tell as we strolled around looking for dinner) of Emsworth and I was determined to, just once, actually remember the name of an anonymous small town that we have stayed in…

A proper kiwi summer holiday

While we managed to catch up with most of the Andersons in September, we decided it wasn’t quite the same as a trip back home for Robbie. So 36 hours after leaving Norfolk on 27th December, we arrived in Taupo surprising most of the family thanks to a little help from Dave.

We spent a wonderful two weeks in NZ, with a couple of days around Wellington and one in Auckland, enjoying what Robbie remembers as a traditional summer holiday – sunny days and warm evenings, cricket on the beach, enjoying Lake Taupo, dinner and gossiping with extended family (there were 24 of us one night).

More  to follow, see some initial photos here