On this, the occasion of my 100th post, I thought I would tell you about last weekend which was a weekend of firsts for me.  I flew back from Athens on the Friday, with my sister and her two daughters.  Could I just say that although I love them both unreservedly and they were fantastically well-behaved, travelling with children is extraordinarily stressful.  Firstly, everything takes three times as long as usual.  Next, G, who is 4, hasn’t quite grasped the concept of staying nearby.  She is entirely at the mercy of her natural curiosity, wandering off, following kids whose bags she likes, or ladies whose sparkly tops appeal to her.  I kept looking around to where she had been by my side 10 seconds previously and having to swing round left to right calling her name to ascertain where she had gone to.  Also, she insisted on pushing my wheelie suitcase which was on 4 wheels, so easily manoeuverable if you are actually bigger than the suitcase, but much harder when you are about the same height.  Needless to say, she was being led by my suitcase, and I was dragging her hot pink trunkie around like a neglected dog.  By the time we got onto the plane, I was knackered, stressed, and had developed a slight twitch in one eye.  The flight went well, we were blessed with lovely people all around us who didn’t mind when little heads kept popping up to ask questions, look over their shoulders at video games, and generally be their wonderful curious selves.  My younger niece was the quieter of the two, she was kept busy with some cards and a constant stream of snacks.  We had about an hour at the end of the flight when both girls sat next to me and we just relaxed as they had tuckered themselves out which was lucky as K and I were under extremely serious nap attacks.  All in all it was a successful trip, by which I mean, we didn’t crash, lose either of the children or any belongings, and were not permanently banned from the airline.  As someone who has become spoiled and travels alone or with one other adult, I must admit I found the children aspect of things challenging. It made me admire people who choose to parent even more than I do already.  K – you’re (still) one of my heroes.

On Saturday, my sister D and her boyfriend R were going to this BBQ festival called MeatopiaMeatopia 2014 017

They asked me to come along as they had a spare ticket.  The ticket was £30 which I thought was a bit expensive just to get into the door, especially since nothing else was included, but I had heard of this festival, and thought it would be fun.  It was at Tobacco Docks in Wapping, which is actually the perfect venue for it, as the retractable roof means that the smoke had someplace else to go apart from our lungs.  Basically, it featured loads of restaurants/food companies, who were each preparing a dish, which you could buy with tokens costing £5.  The point is to go around and taste everything, so the portions aren’t massive, they are just samples of something original.  Obviously, with all my particuliarities, I am not the ideal customer at these places.  For a start, I cannot eat standing up without spilling stuff down my shirt.  Secondly, I had my new camera with me, which is a bit bigger than my previous little point and shoot thing, and I am still learning how to carry it/use it.  Thirdly, if I had tried everything there, I wouldn’t have been feeling very well within an hour and this would have ruined my afternoon, my evening and quite possibly the next day(s) too.  Fortunately, I was with D & R who were quite relaxed about it, and not constantly worrying about what I was eating or not eating, but just sharing what they were having.  We tried two different types of burgers (one of which left my mouth on fire for about 30 minutes), pulled goat, steak, chicken, lamb, hot dog, and several different types of pork.  Most of it was delicious, and all of it was different and original, which is why you go to these things, to try new and previously untasted dishes.  R who is a bit of a BBQ expert himself (I will be posting about his EPIC pulled pork soon), pointed out the people we should recognise and really enjoyed talking to all the chefs.  I enjoyed people watching and taking photographs of the picturesque venue.  At some point, the founder Josh Ozersky came over and introduced himself, and recommended these tacos.  I said I would go and get some tacos while they waited for other stuff.  I went up to the stall, and the guy gave me the spiel.  That was the only time that the spiel actually put me off putting the food into my mouth.  R ate all the tacos and I practised my how-not-to-look-horrified-when-tripe-and-tendons-are-mentioned face.  One of the highlights was seeing an ox on the spit which is as I am sure you will agree is a sight to behold. Meatopia 2014 059

Unfortunately, the ox was being roasted on the Saturday so that it would be ready for the second day of the festival, so we were able to admire but not taste.  We cleansed our palates with some delicious gelato from a company called Black Vanilla and left for home about 4 hours later feeling full of stomachs and achy of feet.  I had spent £25 whilst there, and so had D & R.  They also bought a drink each and they were pricey.  Still though, it was a great day, there were loads of interesting people to talk to, lots to see and taste, and great live music to dance and sing along to.   I had managed to sneak a portion of the smoked pig cheeks and foie gras butter for my friend N, whom I was seeing that evening when we went out to a gastropub we’d never been to before in Chelsea which felt a bit like going into the middle of nowhere – only posh.  We had a nice meal there too, and I came home for an early night because on Sunday I was going out to Parkside Farm in Enfield to pick my own fruit and vegetables.

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Much time was spent explaining to C aged 2 that the red ones were not ready to pick, and that she should only pick the black ones. She did not really like it, and I could see why. The red ones are so much prettier!

Like I said, a weekend of firsts, and this I was really looking forward to.  We were going with my sister and brother-in-law and the two girls and so we set out on Sunday afternoon to get to this place which was supposed to take us 30 minutes.  Remember how I said everything takes three times as long with the kids?  This was no different and if you add to that the traffic on the way there, we didn’t really get there until 3:45.  No matter, we started out with our containers and a trolley and went off in search of blackberries.

I hadn’t been blackberry picking since I was a child and it was every bit as fun as I remembered.  After we had filled three containers with blackberries, and the girls had been sneaking every third one, we decided to move on before they got tummy ache.  We walked over fields and picked onions, beetroot, courgettes, French beans, squash and sweetcorn.  It was a lovely afternoon and the girls loved it, especially since they got a feeling for the fact that fruit and vegetables don’t actually grow in supermarkets.  We all learned how to tell when the sweetcorn was ripe, we learned that French beans grow on the bottom of the plant, and which leaves to pull up to find beetroot.  The only problem we had was agreeing on how long 15cm was when we were picking the courgettes.  I felt I had it right, but A said that the ones I was picking were too small (they had to be at least 15cm) and we would get into trouble.  I didn’t actually measure them, but we didn’t get into trouble so I assume I can’t have been that far off.  I would totally recommend this place as it is an activity you can pace how you want to and a great way to while away an afternoon.  The fruit and veg was of excellent quality (I had corn on the cob for lunch and it was amazing) and cheaper than you can buy in the supermarket.

Parkside pick your own 095

15cm? Answers on a postcard please.


So I guess that the weekend which was supposed to be my quiet, pottering and settling back home weekend turned out a little differently, but I am not complaining.  Settling back in doesn’t take that long, and I got to experience two things I wouldn’t ordinarily, so I was happy to give up the quiet time at home.  After all, I can have quiet time at home any day of the week, but travelling meat and fruit and veg wait for no man, and I wouldn’t have missed either activity for the world.

Summer is over I guess, but if the Autumn and Winter turn out to be as interesting and exciting as this weekend, then I guess I can stomach the Greek expression being bandied about at the moment:

Kalo Heimona, Have a good winter everyone.