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Archive for the category “Driving”

Meatopia – A weekend of meat (and walking)

The weekend just gone was primarily spent in London, as it was the weekend of Meatopia, a festival of barbecue, meat, and music. Now in its third year, and I’ve been to each one.

I like the Grillstock festival (which is similar) but it’s still not a par on Meatopia, which really does bring in some of the star chefs in the barbecue/steak/brisket/burger sector of the industry, and there’s always some spectacular stuff on the list.

Meatopia is also more about smaller dishes – it’s more like a set of courses on a tasting menu, and you get to try a bundle of things. Grillstock’s stuff tends to be more meal-sized, so you don’t have as many, although there are also less/fewer (whichever) stands/cooks, so it kind-of balances out.

But if the two were ever to run on the same weekend, Grillstock would lose. For me, it’s that simple.

Because I knew I’d be eating a fair quantity of meat, I was (vaguely) sensible about it, and parked at the Barbican Centre (my new favourite parking in London) and walked to the venue at Tobacco Dock – about a 5km walk – which I really enjoyed. I know most people don’t see 5km each way as “a stroll” but for me that’s what it was – and improved by fun things along the way, like turning a corner and seeing the Tower of London, with the Shard directly behind it, which was a nice surprise.

As for the food, we did well. In no particular order, I had…


  • Kid Shwarma (Shwarma from Goat Kid)
  • Chargrilled Herdwick Lamb with Smoked Cream Potato
  • Picanha (cut of beef)
  • Smoked Shortrib Sandwich with Pickles and Sriracha Cocktail Sauce (awesome)
  • A fistful of pigs (pig cooked different ways)
  • One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer (Beef, Bourbon-braised peppercorns, beer cheese) – awesome
  • Anatolian Spiced FlatIron Steak with Babaganoush
  • Chicky Chicky Bang Bang (Barbecued Chicken in a bun, but with extra burger because the chef decided it wasn’t meaty enough)
  • Hawksmoor’s ‘Spitalfields Burger’ with braise short rib (excellent)
  • Bourbon-glazed Tomahawk steak surf’n’turf
  • Oh, and ice-cream, and a cider

Being a bad, bad person, I think also stopped of at Honest in Liverpool Street (it was kind-of on my route back to Barbican) to have their new Oktoberfest special burger, which was also ace. Although I couldn’t face the chips that came with it…


  • Dirty Jerk Ribeye on Beef Dripping New Potatoes (Amazing)
  • Pit-roast Middlewhite Pigs, Yorkshire Pudding, Onion Gravy
  • DuckHearts with Apple and Kohlrabi salad (my least-liked of the weekend)
  • Aged Venison Shoulder, Leek and Potato (Excellent – Joint Favourite of the weekend)
  • Herdwick Lamb Chop with Lamb Fat Hollandaise (Mega)
  • BBQ Chicken Shawarma, Garlic Tahini, Dill Pickle, Chilli Sauce (Joint Favourite of the weekend)
  • Spicy Old Cow (48-58 (opinions varied) day aged beef, chillis, beef dripping, sourdough roll)
  • Hawksmoor Tomahawk Steak with Bulgogi (I don’t know) Hollandaise.
  • And ice-cream and cider again

All told, an excellent weekend, with a total of 30km walked over the two days – which balances out a lot of the food intake!

New(ish) Places – Some More

Following on from last week’s post about rediscovering places that are local (and that I hadn’t realised were local) I did a similar thing this weekend.

Having dropped off the Uborkans back at Stoke Bruerne, I had all day to play with, so mooched over to another blast from the past- Rushden and Higham Ferrers, in Northamptonshire.  While I didn’t work there myself, friends did, and I got pretty familiar with the area.

As before, it was odd to be going along routes I remember from bus and taxi rides from Northampton, the way those routes tripped my memory – as did arriving in Rushden, and recalling a bundle of landmarks.

I ended up walking round Rushden, as well as up to Higham Ferrers (roughly 3km each way) to revisit places I used to frequent. It was odd to see the changes, as well as the bits that haven’t changed – particularly the hotel that my friends worked in, which is now a set of apartments, with a new connected building, and a new supermarket over the road. It’s bloody weird, seeing old memories overlaid with new changes.

Once I was done, I drove home via a very perverse and winding route – I kind-of knew where I was, and where I was heading, but definitely took some of the odder routes and diversions, basically just learning sections of the local geography (and linking together bits I already knew, but hadn’t figured the road connections) and enjoyed doing so.

All told, a pretty decent way to spend a day.

New(ish) Places

As has been noted many many times here, I’m a bit of an idiot when it comes to travel, and think nothing of doing a two-hour-each-way drive for a day trip.  Somewhere in my head, I don’t really think “locally” for exploring and finding new places. As a result, I’m sometimes surprised by locations when I’m doing other stuff.

This weekend I was helping the Uborkans with a bit of taxi-work to make their lives easier. That involved nipping up to Stoke Bruerne to collect them, and dropping them off in Linslade – a dead easy journey, and not at all far for me.

I’d been to Stoke Bruerne a few times as a kid – school trips and the like – to the canal museum and so on, and I’d never realised how close it actually is to my current location.  We’re talking less than half an hour’s drive – it’s really close. Because it was a nice day, I got there early, and had a wander along a decent-sized length of the canal too, for fun – definitely somewhere I’ll return to.

Once I’d dropped them off at destination, I also finally discovered a pub I remembered from years ago, when I worked and lived in the area. So I’ll have to give that a go at some point – we never visited it the first time round, I just remember going past it on a regular basis, but didn’t remember the roads properly for how to get to it – I’d actually decided it was a different pub that I have tried and not been impressed by, which is in a similar location.  So yeah, that’s on the list.

And finally, in the evening the Uborkans had come back up to the edges of Milton Keynes, so we arranged to meet at a pub. It was in Simpson, an area I’ve been past on the main roads several times, but not actually been into at all – and it’s really nice, to the degree that you wouldn’t believe you were in Milton Keynes at all.  Indeed, it’s nice enough that it’s been added to the “yeah, I could live there” list, for if/when I decide to leave the current location.

It’s just interesting, how you (OK, how I) can still find new places in an area you’ve lived in for a number of years. I regularly bugger off far and wide, but I haven’t really explored a lot of the local area. Maybe that needs to change a bit…


Ten years ago today, I finally passed my driving test. How time flies when you’re blatting round the country, and all that.

Prior to passing, driving had never really bothered me – I’d usually lived in places with decent public transport links, and when I hadn’t there’d always been friends, or lifts.  It also helped to own very little for a lot of that time – there were a few occasions where I moved by train, and could still do it in one journey, albeit with three or four bags.

However, now I wouldn’t be without my driving licence (and car, naturally – or at worst the ability to rent one whenever needed) and would hate to lose it. If something were to happen that made me lose my licence, I’d have to change everything – house, job, life in general. It would emphatically not be fun.

It still surprises me, though, how much I’ve changed in that ten years, and how much my attitude to driving has changed too.

Because I was such a late adopter of it – pretty close to mid-thirties – I thought I’d stay with using public transport, and that I wouldn’t drive much. Oh, how wrong I was.

In that ten years, I’ve covered *at least* 180,000 miles. That’s just a calculation based on the two cars I’ve owned, and doesn’t include hire cars, Herself’s car when we were together, or any other journeys. With all that included, it’s probably damn close to 200,000 miles in ten years.  Considering I’ve had some years (like this one) where I’ve been working far closer to home than others, that’s still quite an average to have been covering.

As I’ve said before, I really don’t think anything of a day trip involving two hours driving each way – one of those can add 4 to 500 miles to my total on its own.

Oddly, the general attitude to driving and miles seems to be a family trait – my brother covers even more miles than I do, Dad always used to cover a fair amount too, and none of us think anything of doing journeys that most people class as “too far”. Or maybe it’s just being daft that’s a family trait…


Today, D4D™ is celebrating its thirteenth birthday.

Way back in 2002, when I wrote D4D™’s first post in Blogger, things were very different…

And despite having slowed down and slacked off for periods over that time, it has to be said that D4D has outlasted

  • No less than eight houses (or at least my tenancies in those houses) – I’m still in the ninth place, so we don’t know which will win on that score
  • Four relationships
  • Two cars
  • Countless jobs and contracts – I’ve come up with a rough figure of 22, but I’m sure I’ve missed at least two
  • Oodles of other stuff I’m not going to rehash

There have been pauses, and things have definitely slowed down when it comes to writing here. But it’s still going, and we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds

Into August

Somehow, we’re into August already. The year’s racing by (as usual) and here we are. August.

August is a funny (as in ‘odd’, not as in ‘ho ho’) month for me – for some reason it’s always been rather more eventful than others. It seems to be generally a month of change for me, in ways both negative and positive.

It’s definitely the month I get twitchy about, more than any other. I’m sure that’s because my parents first pointed out what a consistently change-laden month it was (which may have also gone some way to making it a bit more self-fulfilling) but I try to not focus on it. By that, I mean that I don’t consciously go “oh, I’ll do that in August”.  August just seems to happen.

As examples…

  • D4D™ got started in August. Not intentionally (well obviously it got started intentionally) in August – that was just when everything came together for it to happen
  • My bankruptcy was in August. Again, that’s just when it came about.
  • I finally passed my driving test in August.
  • I’ve had *lots* of job changes in August, contracts ending and so on.

This time round, it looks (so far) like things will be a lot calmer.

I was a bit twitchy, as my current work contract had an end date next week – and even though I was 99% sure it would extend again, there’s always that “But it’s August, and thus could bite me on the bum” nagging doubt. However, it’s been confirmed this week that it’ll extend again, through to October (which will mean I’ve been doing this one for a year) so that’s all good.

To the best of my knowledge I’ll be staying in the current house for at least another year. That’s the plan (and renewal isn’t ’til November, so not a concern) and I see no current reason to change it.

There’s currently nothing else of major import and change looking like it’ll happen.  I’ve got stuff planned for the month, but nothing change-laden.   All the same, during August I’ll be…

  • Doing a 10Km sponsored walk for Marie Curie
  • Seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet (a happy surprise instance, brought about by a friend of a friend not being able to go)
  • Possibly another London visit, or alternative Day Trip
  • Sorting out (renewing) car insurance again

And there’s a bundle of other stuff as well, alongside the weekly working normality.

So with any luck, this August won’t be too eventful and change-laden. We’ll see.

Ker-Fut5 – The Return

As of this morning, Saab is back in my possession.

While I was at the garage paying for the work (Car, you owe me big time. Any further breakdowns this year and you’re likely to go to the great scrapyard in the sky) they showed me the old turbo.

Wow.   When they said it had exploded, they really weren’t far wrong.

Somehow – and I don’t know at all – some of the blades within the turbo itself had shattered. Bits of metal every-sodding-where.

All now seems well. They’ve warned me there may be some smoke from the exhaust due to the amount of oil that went through the entire system, although it’s been fully cleaned out.

So we’ll see how we go. I hope all will be well for a while from now.

(And now I’ve just got to do one more run with the hire car, then return that tomorrow and get in to work. Fun)

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