Saturday, August 20, 2011

Getting back up to speed, and a speedy visit in England

Whoa… where did July go? Short answer: Baby nephew James. As I told my sister one evening: “I wish I could stop a conversation like that when I enter a room!” He is too cute and gets funnier and cleverer every day. This little trickster melts even the toughests of hearts, and he’s got us all wrapped around his tiny little pinky. My grandmother had flown from South Africa to behold the new addition to my sister’s family and it was a special occasion to have the four generations all together. Being back with my family in Canada made us realize how important family is to us and how much we’ve missed the “permanent fixtures” in our lives over the past few months of being transient and always MIA. We therefore decided that it was indeed necessary to return to Australia for some close friends’ wedding in October (consequences and credit cards can be dealt with later, right?). Having found a cheap flight into London and out of Rome, we took a look at the map of Europe and saw a smattering of countries in between and quickly brewed up a route through Europe to wrap up our trip. I’ll draw your attention to the new logo of the website and leave it at that.

Hint #1

Hint #2

Not an obvious hint, but this giant installation is in Trafalgar Square

So here we find ourselves in London, which I will gleefully dub The Big Gherkin to keep with all the other Famous Big Fruit. We’ve both been in London before but I have family here that I’d like to see so we stay for a few days and catch up. It’s crazy that in ten years my cousin went from being in grade school to taking us out for a beer-soaked night all over London Town (and even crazier that we managed to keep up!). For those up-to-date with their world news, this was the night that the riots started in Tottenham. It always upsets me to see such senseless violence and damage against innocent people and their property*, especially when you consider the possibility that the victims probably suffer the same type of injustice and system failures which sparked the riot in the first place. Really, who the hell needs to burn a double-decker bus and a building down, and then not even have a meaningful message?!?! We end up only going to bed as the sun came up because we watched news all morning (that’s the excuse anyways)…

The Abbey at Hatfield House

Queen Elizabeth I and her chronies

Making Hatfield House look awesome

Liverpool Street Station's chocolate children

It's The Gherkin! 

…which means that catching a bus 4 hours later was the lowlight of our stay, although definitely worth it in the end. If I have one bit of advice for you all, this is it: in your life, make sure you make friends with a chef. Other than the obvious reason of fantastic meal prospects, they are also some of the few folks who don’t have a regular 9-5, which means they can sometimes hang out during the day (and they’re awake and on facebook at random times in the wee morning hours – great for time-zone differences!). I consider myself extremely lucky to have the talented chef/ owner of Iberico World Tapas in Nottingham as one of my best friends since we were little. So I took the liberty of inviting myself over to Jacque and Jessie’s place for a visit, mostly because I wanted to congratulate them on their first adorable offspring (geez, what’s up with all these babies?). Nottingham is charming (Robin Hood and all that), but in my opinion the biggest reason to go there is to eat at Iberico. GO THERE. Get the tuna. And the beef-mushroom-truffle oil affair. And the zucchini flowers. Bugger it – get everything, or at least as much as you can possibly eat, because it is all exceptional.

The Tuna.... oh the tuna...

Just chilling with my man Robin, in the Hood


The thing about good friends is that years can go by, and when you see each other again it’s as if it was yesterday. I am so grateful for such good friends, and the good times we shared makes me happy to be on the way back home.

* While out walking in Nottingham Jacque showed us the spot where his car was burned down randomly by a group of hooligans a year or so ago. See what I mean?!?

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