Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you're a cunt

Damage, Stupidity, and Repair. (And food)

Just before the weekend, either Thursday or Friday, I twisted my ankle. Nothing major, nothing broken – but painful, and a joyous shade of purple by the Saturday morning.  I’ve no idea what I actually did to it – there was no noteworthy twist, trip, or knock, but I’d obviously done something stupid to it.

However, because I’m a massive idiot, I wasn’t going to let something like that stop me from doing the stuff I had planned for the weekend.

So on Saturday I took the train down to London in order to go to Taste London‘s Festive Edition, down at Tobacco Dock. I went earlier than usual, because – again, despite that slightly twatted ankle – I was planning to walk from Euston to Tobacco Dock, meet friends, go round the event, and then decide what I’d do from there.

The walk went surprisingly well, made a decent time – albeit a bit slower than usual, for obvious reasons.

route map and timingI got there hugely early, which meant I was at the front of the queue, but that’s fine. Met up with friends, covered the whole of the Taste Festival, and had a good time.

And then, because I’m still a massive idiot, we walked back from Tobacco Dock, first to The Alchemist on Bevis Marks, near the Gherkin, for a couple of cocktails (they’re brilliant, hugely creative, and decently priced – for anywhere, rather than ‘reasonable for London’) and then on to Honest Burgers at Tottenham Court Road before getting back to Euston. All told, somewhere around 13 miles of walking on a still-stuffed ankle.  By the end of it, my leg was extremely sore, but it was well worth it.

On the Sunday, I had a quieter day planned – out in the evening, but nothing planned for the day. So I took it a bit easier, did a load of domestic stuff, but without doing a lot of walking. The leg and ankle were still sore, so I didn’t want to exacerbate the damage any further.

Then in the late afternoon/early evening, over to friends, and thence to Northampton for food at a place they’d recommended and like (Sol Y Luna in Northampton) for epic tapas and then a couple of drinks at The Olde England pub before heading to their and then home.

So it was a pretty epic weekend of food, with added twattery and pain.

And this morning, when I no longer need to do a load of walking, of course the ankle is now pretty much back to normal. Of course…

Birthday Weekend – Aliens

For the birthday weekend, once I’d done Le Manoir on Saturday, and Dinner for lunch on Sunday, it was time to make my way down to the Royal Albert Hall, which was showing Aliens on a big screen, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing the soundtrack.

Aliens is one of my favourite films, and one I’ve seen far more times than I’d care to admit – both the original release and the Director’s Cut / Special Edition. But I hadn’t seen it on a big screen for a proper cinema-style presentation, and definitely never with a live soundtrack!

And it was great. I’d wondered how they’d do soundtrack/music from the orchestra while keeping the dialogue and other sound-effects, and there’s obviously been a fair amount of work involved in doing this. I assume that the music soundtrack is on a different channel (or whatever) from the other bits of audio, so it’s more a case of ‘not playing’ one track, but I don’t know.

Regardless, hearing the music live enabled me to notice bits I hadn’t appreciated before – subtle in the recorded version, obvious live – such as the drum roll that’s used for all the more militaristic scenes, and other small thematic pieces along the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing – well, except for the seats, which were some of the most uncomfortable in Christendom – and now really want to see other films show in the same way. It’s bloody brilliant.

Birthday Weekend – Dinner

For the birthday weekend, once I’d done Le Manoir on Saturday, I was in London on Sunday for two things – the first of which was lunch at Heston Blumenthal’s “Dinner” restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

I can’t claim to be a huge fan of Blumenthal, but Dinner is an interesting concept, resurrecting and reinventing meals from previous times/eras, ranging from the 1300s through to early 1940s.

It’s also one of the few places I’ve been to this year that doesn’t do a tasting menu, opting instead for three larger courses.

I had a great meal consisting of

  • Roast Scallops (c. 1830) – with cucumber ketchup, roasted cucumber, bergamot and borage
  • Chicken cooked with Lettuces (c. 1670) – Grilled onion emulsion, spiced celeriac sauce and oyster leaf, with a side of some of the best mashed potato ever (as recommended by the waiter)
  • Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) – fresh-made brioche on a beautiful sauce, with spit-roasted pineapple.
  • And finished off with Liquid-Nitrogen ice cream, made at the table, which was a great finale.

There’s also a lot more stuff on the menu that I now really want to try, so I’ll be aiming to return in 2017.

It’s Begun

ScroogeSo here we are. Not even ten days into November, and the run-up to the Festering Season is fully underway.

The Christmas adverts have kicked in- and the ‘event’ ones like John Lewis etc. will be launching over the next few days.

The supermarkets have got all their tat out already, the cards, mince pies, chocolates etc., and even the fucking Christmas trees in the entrances, for shit’s sake.

Of course, the TV schedules are filling up with the standard reality TV run-ups, the BBC’s “Strictly” and ITV’s “X-Factor”.

Seven weeks or so to go, and it’ll be over for another nine months or so. In the meantime, D4D will be brought to you courtesy of the words “For”, “Fuck’s” and “Sake”. As usual.

Birthday Weekend – Le Manoir

As I said earlier this week, for my actual birthday I took myself to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for lunch, partly for birthday purposes, partly for the whole solo-dining project.

I grew up close to Le Manoir, and my parents are still close by, so I’ve never been able to justify going there (and particularly staying, which is the best way to book a table well ahead of time) but I did get lucky when it came to booking myself for lunch. They open the bookings for non-residents three months in advance, and I’d called them before lunchtime on August 5th. (That was more about lucky ‘why the hell not’ thoughts and decisions on that day, rather than anything I can claim to be planned)

So it’s fair to say I was looking forward to this one quite a bit. Happily, it lived up to the expectations.

Le Manoir is well known for its garden, where they grow a lot of their own vegetables, fruit and herbs. It’s an impressive setting, and guests are free to have a wander round the garden, either before or after their meal.

I had the November tasting menu, and it was bloody good. It included…

  • Roasted Pumpkin and Butternut Squash soup, with a biscotti loaded with pumpkin puree, cashew nuts and Cashel Blue cheese
  • Beetroot Terrine (which I’d been recommended to ask for, and managed to get as a complimentary extra course, because Birthday)
  • Confit Salmon with Lemon Verbena, Apple Pieces and Apple Puree
  • Free-range Hen’s Egg, watercress, ham and toasted hazelnuts
  • Quail, beetroot gratin, bulgur wheat and “leaves”
  • Comté Cheese, aged 12, 24 and 36 months
  • Ravioli of exotic fruits (a mix of exotic fruits under a shell of apricot) with a coconut foam/jus
  • Millionaire Shortbread to finish, a soft toffee with bitter chocolate on shortbread, and salted butter ice-cream

It was a fantastic meal, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.  Admittedly, it wasn’t in the top three meals I’ve had this year – but some of that is because I’ve massively spoiled myself this year with other places. In any normal year, it would definitely have been one of the best.


Birthday Weekend

In general, I don’t really do much on/for my birthday, or surrounding it. Birthdays aren’t something I see as generally important, they are (to me) just another day.  I try to recognise them for others and so on, but honestly, I’m not that bothered when it comes to my own.

This year, though, the weekend of my birthday turned out to be a fairly epic one – albeit still not massively social, and more because of the way things worked out, rather than anything else.

The first indicator that it would be a non-standard weekend came a lot earlier in the year, when I discovered that the Royal Albert Hall (RAH) was going to be showing one of my all-time favourite films, Aliens, with the soundtrack being performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  I’d have booked it for any damn time of the year, to be honest – but the fact it was being done on the day after my birthday made it even better. So I booked tickets for myself and a friend to see it. Happy day. And really, that would’ve been enough to make it a good day/weekend.

But then same friend suggested we make a day of it, and do a decent lunch before the film. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s some decent places just up the road from the RAH.  So he booked a table for us, as well as his wife and son. (Who wouldn’t have let him eat around there without them, all being foodies)  Where? Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Because? Well, why not?

But both of those were for the day after my birthday. So, with the Solo Dining project in mind as well, I decided to book somewhere for lunch on the actual day. And ended up with a booking at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, which had been on my list for a while, and was generally regarded as being bloody good.

And that’s what happened.

And you know what? It was bloody good.   I’ll write more during the coming week, but safe to say, yeah, it’s been a good weekend. Although today I do feel just a bit broken. Sad, but true.

2016/17 – What’s Next? The Coming Year

As usual, following on from my posts about what’s happened over the last year, it’s time to think about – and write about – what I want to do over the coming year.

Similar to last year, I’m going to keep it fairly simple and open, rather than being too detailed. I’ve got better details in my head, but they’re not going to be written down.

The basic goals are going to be :

  1. Continue rebuilding the finances, and keep boosting the savings
  2. Exercise, improve health, lose weight
  3. Complete September’s walking marathon – ideally in under seven hours. (My target is more ambitious than that, but I’ll be happy with 7 hours)
  4. Write more. (And ideally complete/publish some)
  5. Do more of the ideas around my own business
  6. Get out less.  Ideally, some kind of middle-ground between being ultra-quiet/sensible, and the idiocy of the last year
  7. Look more at some political ideas, and see how that goes. (This one’s the random ‘maybe’ one, I don’ tknow if anything will happen with it or not)

I could go into more detail – although that’s handled more in my notebook of to-do lists and ideas – but for now this’ll cover things.

On first viewings, it should be an interesting year.


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