Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Day of Snow in London

Walked to Tooting Bec tube station on a chilly clear morning. Got out at Arnos Grove in North London to discover several inches of snow on ground. Its a rare occurence in London and even more surprising given it only partially covered the city. According to the Evening Standard it was the first October snow in London for 70 years. Starting to feel Christmassy now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thunderstorms, Scottish Dancing and Chinese Girls

Last weekend we held the 9th annual Reunion of the girls from the Long Yan Orphange at Dumfries, birthplace of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. There were 8 families from all over the UK and in keeping with the location there was an evening of Scottish dancing on Saturday evening after a day of mountain biking in the torrential rain. We even visited a genuine Scottish castle.

Every year its a joy to see the girls growing up and to catch up with the familes. Next October we'll be south of the border. Liverpool? Southport? My vote's for Blackpool.

What I'm Reading

Over the weekend I've spent several hours on long train journeys. Its during these times that you're really grateful to have a good book to pass the time away.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is a really enjoyable read. Its the story of a group of wealthy people, including a famous opera singer kidnapped by terrorists in a Latin American country. People fall in love, strange alliances are formed and they learn to survive in unusual circumstances. Ann Patchett also wrote 'The Magician's Assistant' which I also really liked. This is even better, I think.
Thanks very much to the lady in Dublin airport who recommended it to me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another Nice Lunch

Thanks to a recommendation from my sister Silvana, I went for lunch today at Hix Oyster and Chop House, located around the corner from Smithfield Market. As the name suggests, oysters and various cuts of meat feature prominently on the menu. The atmosphere was informal with a long marble bar where people could sit and eat, white tiles and dark wooden floors. Lovely food. Nice staff. Definitely worth a visit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nice Day For Lunch at the South Bank

Monday, October 20, 2008

Posh Cocktail Party

Last night we went to a reception at the Italian Cultural Institute to celebrate a season of Italian films being shown at the London Film Festival. We were invited by our Italian teacher Tina and it was a very stylish affair. I know its a cliche, but Italians are so well dressed and, of course, are very good looking. The great and the good of the Italian film world were present and it was a lovely way to end the week.
Shock Horror! Derby On a Winning Streak!

Derby have now gone seven games unbeaten and are 1 point off a place in the play-offs. The world of football is so surprised that they've decided to launch an enquiry into a match fixing allegation following Derby's away win at Norwich. Bloody cheek!

Am particularly pleased that Tottenham are doing so badly at the moment. The people who run the club have never struck me as being particularly pleasant and I can't stand the way their fans continue to abuse Sol Campbell. Hopefully they'll go down this year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm Currently Reading
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, told through the eyes of a Pakistani Muslim with a high-flying job in New York during the time of the attacks on the World Trade Centre. I've read about 40 pages and I'm really enjoying it. Its very precise, sharp and compelling. The kind of book I'm looking forward to reading again, which will probably be during my flight this afternoon to Hamburg. My friend Clare lent me her copy. Thanks Clare. Good choice.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Cavolo Nero

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The End of the Allotment Year
It was a beautiful Autumn day on the allotment. There's not much left to pick apart from the remaining runner beans, leeks and red cabbage. However, cavolo nero - is looking really good. Need to get out the recipe books - ribolito is all I can think of.
The biggest job is clearing everything away and filling up the compost bins. Luckily my father-in-law Maurice who has moved in recently is able to give me a hand - thank goodness.

We Got Our First Christmas Card Today
Thanks Ronnie, Charlie, Ben, Hannah, Rosie and Josh. Much appreciated. Is it that time of the year already? Maybe they operate on a different Calender in Wirksworth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food.
I'm really enjoying Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food. whereby he's trying to get the whole nation to cook again by passing on recipes.
This time he's dealing with issues that are much more deep rooted and complex that any of his previous campaigns and I really admire what he's trying to do.
This is much more than a cookery programme. It exposes some of the key issues facing Britain today.
- our ongoing class system and the north south divide
- poor education, with people who can't read recipes and have never been taught to cook
- family breakdown and the consquences of single parenthood
- the growing gap between rich and poor
- our obesity epidemic and resultant health issues
Jamie represents the middle class, self made, foodies at the heart of Britain's 'food revolution' and I love the way he can't quite get to grips with people who can't/ won't cook for themselves and prefer to spend what little cash they have on fags, booze and takeaways.
There are no quick fixes here, but well done Jamie for raising awareness of the issues and having a good crack at them.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I saw Gordon Ramsay this evening sitting by a swimming pool

This evening I went to pick up Mae from her swimming club at a school in Wandsworth. Gordon Ramsay was there too, talking to his wife. I only noticed him because Mae asked him to move so she could get her bag.

'Can I get my bag please' she says, ', 'oh, sorry' says the man. Blimey, that's Gordon Ramsay I thought.

I guess one of his children goes to the same swimming club.

Dublin Airport in The Rain
I often buy books at Dublin airport. I don't know why. It's just a habit I've acquired and there really isn't much to do there. A woman was browsing next to me. I recommended the Wind Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami to her and she recommended Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett to me. We both bought them. Must talk to strangers more often.

Monday, October 06, 2008

From Paris to Dublin

Spent most of last week travelling. Had a fabulous dinner last Tuesday in Paris (foie gras, cote de boeuf) followed by a workshop, then a day in Dublin on Friday reporting back on some market research findings. (haddock and chips for lunch, by the way)

Was very impressed by the Paris bike rental scheme, whereby you can pick up a bike at the metro station and deposit it at any other parking station in the city. According to the Parisians I've spoken to, its been a massive success.
Would love to see a scheme like this in London. Am sure it would be a big hit. Come on Boris, time to make your mark.