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Archive for the category “Food”

Taste of London – Winter

Earlier this year, I went to the London Taste festival in Regent’s Park, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

When that finished they started also talking about a Winter festival, I got a ticket for it ages back, and went up to it today.

The Winter one was at Tobacco Dock (same place as Meatopia, earlier in the year) but on a larger scale than Meatopia. I’d never realised that Meatopia uses less than half the space available in the Dock, which meant that on occasion it was a bit disorienting, to be in places I thought I knew, but turned out to be on the other side of the building. Most confusing.

Taste is interesting – it’s less focused than the other ones I go to, there’s more varieties of food to try, and it’s driven a lot more by restaurants showing off what they do. For that, it’s really good – nice to have variety, and ranges of food from curried stuff through to meringues, as well as a big range of street-food type stuff, tacos, sliders, burgers and the like. It’ss a lot smaller than Summer Taste (which is fine) and a lot of fun. I got to have a fine range of foods, and had a great day.


2015/16 – Getting Out More

As things stabilise more here, I’m looking at what I want to do in 2016 – and in particular towards taking some breaks. This year has ripped past, and I’m renownedly shit at taking holidays at the best of times.

So part of the plan will be to do some weekends away, as well as a couple of longer breaks.  I’m looking at places/destinations at the moment, so that I can book them before the end of this year. That way I can have them as immovable events when it comes to going to a new contract in 2016.

I’ve already booked up a couple of weekends away, and it’s all looking pretty promising. And continuing on from last year’s side-project about being more comfortable with eating on my own, there’s more places booked and going to be booked on that score too. Details of those will follow as and when through the year though…


As people should have gathered, I’m currently doing a bundle of plans for the coming year, as well as continuing to make changes to my general life, health, fitness and so on.

One of those changes is – yet again – cutting down a lot on my caffeine intake, and seeing how things go.

My caffeine intake is highly cyclic, I cut it down (and sometimes out) for a while, and then it slowly goes back up again. And lo, another cycle continues.

Anyway, this time round I’m working on it again, and so far it’s fairly successful. I’m drinking a lot more water, and the Diet Coke intake is commensurately much, much lower.

What’s annoying, though, is that even with a massively reduced intake, it hasn’t affected my insomnia at all. It’s annoying because just about every person who has ever pointed out I drink too much Diet Coke (or caffeine in any other format) has said it explains my insomnia.

But nope, even when I’m just drinking water – and have been for a couple of weeks – my sleep is still atrocious. Indeed, sometimes even worse than usual.

It really is bloody annoying.

2014-15 Summing Up

This time last year, I made a list of things I wanted to do in the coming year.

So how have I done? Actually, not badly at all.  (The initial goals are in bold, with the results in colour afterwards)

  • Weigh LessKind of. It’s fair to say, this has had its ups and downs. Over the course of the year, I put back on some of the weight I’d lost, and then lost it again. With more regular attendance at the gym, I’ve also changed shape, lost a noticeable amount of fat, but replaced it with a similar weight of muscle, so I’ve maintained roughly the same weight throughout the last six months, despite looking (and feeling) fitter and lighter. It’s annoying, but successful in a way.
  • Write MoreLess successful. I’ve completed a couple of pieces, and got ideas for others. So I guess I’ve written more – and been doing more here – but still, it’s not quite what I’d hoped/planned for.
  • IAM TestKinda. I’ve booked it in, but it’s not happened yet. I’ll write more about that when it does.
  • Ideas for my own businessSuccessful. In the last six months I’ve changed to doing the contract through my own limited company, and dealing with my own accounts and payroll etc. – which is definitely a good step in the right direction. I’ve also got more/better ideas and goals for the coming year, and what the plans will be.
  • Build The FinancesSuccessful. It’s not been perfect. There have been unexpected expenses like the car’s turbo needing replacement, and a few other things along the way. There’s also been that nasty habit of getting out and having a life – some of which hasn’t been super-cheap.
    But all told, I’m coming out of the year in a far better position than I went into it. Not as well as I could have come out of it, but there we go – my choice, my decision, and it’s still a good position to be in.

So all told, it’s been a pretty good year. Most of the plans have borne fruit, or are at least showing growth and promise for the coming year.  Frankly, I can live with that as a set of results.


A(nother) Day In London

On Saturday, I had another London day – they seem to be becoming more common for me currently, and there’s a few more in the near future – which was thoroughly enjoyable, in sometimes unexpected ways.

The primary reason for going was that another friend had bought tickets for a matinee performance of the National Theatre’s “Three Days in the Country“, which I knew absolutely nothing about, but was happy to go and see.  (In fact, that was pretty much the theme for the day, as it worked out)

However, me being me, I decided to make a day of it, and went in dead early. I went in by train, for once (it being an easy walk from Euston down to Waterloo and the South Bank for the NT) and had a basic outline ‘plan’ of “Get in to London, walk down to somewhere central, do something, meet up, see the play”. It really was that basic.

So, for the random thing to do, I ended up going to the Royal Academy and seeing their exhibition of works by Ai Weiwei. I’d been in two minds about seeing this – mainly through not knowing much more about Weiwei than the general media gubbins, and not being overly taken with the stuff of his that I knew of.

As it turned out, the exhibition was brilliant – I really enjoyed it, far more than I’d expected to. As with the Hepworth one I saw a while back, it still had too many people dithering around being fuckwits (which rankles a lot when you’re paying to go in, on allegedly limited numbers) but was still great.

I’ll write more about the exhibition in a different post (because it requires more detail than this one) but if you do get the chance to see it, it’s well worth doing so.

From the RA, I crossed the road and visited Fortnum and Mason, which I hadn’t been in for years. You can be sure I’ll go back there soon for some naughty treat-like things that you don’t see anywhere else.   While there, I had a brunch of eggs hollandaise, which was ace. It was just that kind of day.

And then a continued walk down to the South Bank, meeting up with friends, having lunch, seeing the play (also excellent) and eventually walking back up to Euston and heading home.

A really enjoyable and utterly relaxed day, with 20km walked as a side benefit.

Picked Up By The Fuzz

Last night, while driving home from a meal, I got stopped by the police. The conversation was kind-of entertaining…

Hello sir. Do you know why we’ve stopped you?

Well, it’s half nine on a Thursday and there’s been football and rugby on, so I’m guessing that you think I’ve been drinking, because I’ve taken two roundabouts absolutely correctly, which is something that no other sod in Milton Keynes ever does

Yes, sir. You’re driving carefully and trying to not attract attention, so we think you might be over the limit. When did you last have a drink?

Ummmmm. June?”  (I’ve since realised I had one in September, but hey ho)

OK, can you blow into this device please

Yeah, no worries. I should warn you though, I’ve just eaten a brutally spicy curry, so it might melt the little plastic tube

I blew an absolute zero – same as I have on the other two occasions I’ve been breathalysed. And the tube didn’t quite melt, but it was close.  I’ve also now recommended the curry place to the local police, which has to be a good thing.

However, I can’t deny that it does gall me slightly that I’ve now been pulled over twice in my driving history – and on both times, it’s been for driving properly and to the limits/conditions, rather than anything that’s actually wrong to attract attention.

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!

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