I slacked off from writing posts last week – primarily just because I was ridiculously busy, and didn’t get round to it.
The week before had already been daftly busy, including travel to Newcastle for a couple of days, and then social and busy bits on both weekend days.
I can’t even remember now what I did on the Monday – I know I was out, I just can’t recall where/why. That can’t be a good sign.
Then Tuesday evening I was seeing The The at the Royal Albert Hall, and on Wednesday evening seeing them at Brixton Academy, as I may have mentioned before (on more than one occasion) Both nights were great, but on neither occasion was I home before 1am, nor in bed before 3am. And also working during the day.
Thursday was no better, although at least it was more local, by going to the local Geek Night for a bundle of presentations and connections.
And then Friday was supposed to be quieter, “just popping out” for food at a local event, that then meeting friends and chatting, meaning I didn’t actually leave ’til gone 11pm.
Saturday was a day in London, starting with cocktails and lunch at one of my favourite places, The Alchemist in Bevis Marks (near the base of the Gherkin) followed by a play called “Sancho – An Act of Remembrance” at Wilton’s Theatre.
And today was another food event in Milton Keynes, and this evening I’ve finally stopped and been able to relax a bit.
So. That’s my reasons for not updating over the last week. I think it’s a pretty good list, but other opinions may differ. 🙂
As a corollary to the whole “You Had One Job” post from earlier in the month, it’s only fair for me to also admit my own errors (on occasion)
I left for the airport last Saturday at Ungodly-O’Clock – an 08:30 flight required arriving at Heathrow by 05:30, so I left the house at 03:30 for an hour’s drive. However, what I didn’t do was check Google Maps or whatever before I left, to check the traffic. “Half-three in the morning?“, I thought, “There won’t be any issues“. What a fucking idiot.
So I got to Junction 13 (Southbound) of the M1, and – with no warning – the junction’s closed. Bugger. But if it’s only the junction, that’ll be fine. Up the few miles to J14 (Northbound), go round the roundabout there, and come back down the M1 Southbound, past the closed junction.
Except. Except. It turns out that it’s not just J13 that’s closed. It’s the whole stretch from 14 down to 11. So that’s helpful.
And then it also turns out that – completely unannounced or warned, even on the matrix signs in the run-up – J14 Northbound is also shut.
So I ended up driving up to J15 at Northampton in order to come round that roundabout, down to J14, across to the diversion route, and down to J11 of the M1 where everything re-opened.
More galling in all this is that if I’d just looked at the map and seen that the M1 was closed, I could’ve done my own diversion that would’ve cut out all the hassle, and cut right through to the diversion route without anywhere near the hassle.
On the other hand, because I’m still also pathologically early on these things, I still managed to get to the airport on schedule. A little bit more stressed than I could’ve been, but still in plenty of time and all good.
So yeah, I do make mistakes. And admit to them. So there. 🙂
Yesterday, the weather effectively enforced a day off for me, doing nothing outside. Nothing major, but we had a fair amount (for the UK) of snow overnight, which led to lots of issues with accidents, blocked roads, etc. etc. For my own village, the two main roads out were completely blocked – one by a jack-knifed lorry, and the other just by drivers failing to get up the hills.
So technically it wasn’t the weather itself, so much as the sheer number of people who can’t bloody drive in snow. But still, day off.
In honesty, it was much needed. As I’ve said before, I’ve been ridiculously busy for the last two years – I’ve just counted up, and I’ve had stuff booked in for 48 weeks of 2017 (I’ve counted up til the end of the month) and even on those four ‘free’ ones I was still doing stuff – and December hadn’t provided any real change in that. That’s nothing short of barmy.
So anyway, I’d spent Saturday in London with a mix of food and theatre stuff, so it’s not like it’s been a write-off of a weekend, or anything like that. But a day of doing sod-all – barely going outside, catching up on recorded TV etc., doing some reading, etc. etc. – was definitely A Good Plan.
Whether I feel better for it is still to be determined, but regardless, it was a good day.
The weekend just gone was the one that had been noted as being a completely daft one, even by my standards. It involved a lot of mileage, a fair amount of walking, and a piss-poor amount of sleep.
Saturday had been “planned” for a while, with a full day in London – starting off with the festive version of the Taste festival at Tobacco Dock. I’d got in early (as usual) and walked down to Tobacoo Dock, getting there in plenty of time.
Also as usual, the organisation of Festive Taste was… kinda flawed. The tickets said it started at 12-noon, the email from the ticket people said “Ooops, sorry, we meant 11.30“. Except it actually opened at 11. Genius. And once we were in, it turned out that none of the food places were actually starting until at least 11.15, and in some cases nothing was ready ’til 12. Not good – but standard. The Festive version also appears to be far more focused on booze than on food, which (for me) is annoying, but there we go. It was still worth going, but I was out within 90 minutes.
In the evening I was at the theatre, seeing Stockard Channing in Apologia. It’s an interesting play, and I really enjoyed it – there may be more thoughts later, I’m not sure yet – and then headed home, getting back at around half one. Which would’ve been OK, except that…
On the Sunday I was on the road by 7.30, heading up to Middlesbrough to see friends, and then on to Durham in the late afternoon to see the Lumiere festival, one of my favourite events. Again, I’ll probably write more about it later on – for now though, The Guardian has great pictures of a lot of it here.
A great day, but a long one – and then drove home, getting back about half two on Monday morning. It would’ve been earlier, but it turns out that the M1 was closed (and hadn’t been announced anywhere when I was driving up) for two whole junctions, and the diversion that was in place added a good forty minutes to the drive. Which was a pain, but there we go.
And even that would all have been sensible (ish. Kinda) if it weren’t for the fact I was also on-site in the other office on Monday morning, so I was in Chesham by 8am…
I really am an idiot.
I mentioned in the last post that I’d done a day-trip to Leeds, and that I would write more about it. So, here we are.
One of the Michelin-starred restaurants I’ve been wanting to try for a while is Michael O’Hare‘s “The Man Behind The Curtain” in Leeds. It’s always been booked solid, but when I looked on a whim a couple of months ago, I discovered that there was a table for four free for a late lunch on Saturday. I called the other friend who was interested in the same place , and I booked it.
That’s where the first shock came in. The entire price of the meal was paid at the time of booking, including the wine – and the service charge! Now to me, that’s taking the piss. The only other Michelin-starred place I’ve seen with that attitude is The Fat Duck, and even there it’s “only” the food that is paid for ahead of time, not the wine and tip. Every other place I’ve been has taken a credit card number, and said “if you don’t show up, you’ll pay the full price”, which is fine with me. Paying up front for it all seems very dodgy.
Anyway, I did that, and last Saturday was the day.
I’d hired a car for doing it as a day-trip, as I was also driving the others there and back, and it makes life fun.
“The Man Behind The Curtain” is… highly individual. First things first, it’s on the top floor of a department store – definitely not somewhere you’d just wander into! As it turns out, it now *was* on the top floor – our meal was the last lunch served in the top floor, and they were moving to the basement after the dinner service.
It’s a strange space, seemingly more of a gallery than a restaurant. The walls were graffitied and arty, with chicken-wire clouds above some tables. I’ve never been anywhere else like it – but that also shows in the food. Again it’s very arty – some of the food is quite spectacular, as is the crockery it arrives in. In particular, “Emancipation”, which is cod in squid-ink, basically black food on a black “droplet” plate…
That was just one of the ten ‘courses’. And they were all brilliant.
Honestly, I kind of wanted to not like it, to be unimpressed by the entire place. I feel really strongly about the whole ‘pay upfront’ thing, and think it gives a really bad impression of the restaurant. But the food, the atmosphere, and the service of the place all combined to leave me still impressed.
It was a really good day, and decent drives there and back (two hours door-to-door each way) helped as well.