Wet in Titchwell

Michael booked us up for a night at Titchwell Manor Hotel, where we had a great time in December last year. We drove out to the coast after a lazy start on Saturday, stopping for lunch at The Feathers Hotel in Dersingham, which had a great atmosphere, and we were surrounded by locals having lunchtime pints at the bar.

Dandringham Bar at the Feathers Hotel, Sersingham The Feathers Hotel, Dersingham

We then stopped in Old Hunstanton for a walk in the wind, down to the beach and then up to the old lighthouse. Michael only had four layers on and wasn’t quite warm enough in the freezing, stiff breeze! By 3pm it was already getting dark.

Beach at Old Hunstanton

The Titchwell Manor Hotel is quite luxurious and we had a good relax with the papers, pampering ourselves in the bath and then, a wonderful dinner. I had Brancaster cockles, poached in their shells with a cream sauce (very exciting) and Michael had the Brancaster mussels: both were beautifully lightly cooked. I had Gressingham duck, with an orange jelly, and Michael had venison with various sauces—really lovely. We finished our wine in the lounge (it finished us off) and then tippsily wolfed down quite a few petite fours (just to try the lovely selection) with some coffee before bed.

Titchwell Manor Hotel

We’d come with walking in mind, so after kipper for breakfast (clearly I didn’t learn my lesson last time), we headed out with the intention of having a long walk to the Jolly Sailors in Brancaster Staithe. The weather was awful and the rain was lashing down at times. So we ended up having brisk walk down to the beach, to the Club House of the Golf Course, and back again: about 90 minutes. We weren’t alone completely alone: there were half a dozen people in wetsuits kite surfing—they were very brave indeed as the wind must have been 25–30 knots.

Graham, Near Brancaster Michael near Brancaster

Michael, on the beach

The Shipping News at The Free Press Book Club

Had a good book club night at the Free Press reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. I read the book in June and loved the detailed, careful and exquisite language used, and the exciting visual imagery and atmosphere that the book generated. A few people didn’t get on with the book at all, found the style of writing in the first half too difficult to enjoy and couldn’t finish the book. ‘Book John’ gave a great insight: Proulx was using the language to mirror the mental state/development of the lead character, Quoyle, and make us feel the awkward and uncomfortable as he did. This makes great sense, but I’d missed it in my reading—as the development of the character/language happens naturally through the book.

Discussing the book with about 9 other people brought it all flooding back, and how much I enjoyed it:

As a hot mouth warms a cold spoon, Petal warmed Quoyle

Shopping in London

Christine, Nuala and I stayed at the City Inn Westminster on Friday for a day’s Christmas shopping (or that was the excuse). I met them at Euston and then we headed out to Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, where we had lunch at Wahacas. The food as lovely and spicy but the atmopshere was a bit frantic for a catching-up lunch.

Having lunch with Nuala and Christine at Wahaca in Westfield

A couple of cocktails helped: we had a margerita and a mojito each to get us in the mood for shopping, before setting off to scour Westfield Shopping Centre. It’s pretty big! We went into loads of shops, but I was the only person to buy anything, which was amazing! I bought a new t-shirt for tonight from Desigual, a Spanish outlet that is very colourful, then I also bought a Christmas present for someone special. 🙂 Christine fell in love with a lovely desigual handbag: but it was a bit too pricey! They tried to talk me into getting a jacket which fitted me very well, but which I’d probably never had worn. Now that I see the jacket on the web site I realise that I’m probably 20 years too old for it!

I've managed to out-shop both my sisters. Something must be wrong.

At 5.30 we headed back to the City Inn for a quick rest and to get ready for dinner. A shower of rain had us taking a taxi to Benares in Berkeley Square. Fantastic service, and good gin martinis. The service really was excellent with waiters who brought the food out on large trays, for head waiters to then inspect it before serving the table from the tray. The food was lovely: For starters I had a whole soft-shell crab, in a light batter, which was lovely (and a bit scary), Christine had some potato cakes with a cumin and tamarind sauce, which was beautiful and Nuala had an asparagus salad. The mains were lovely: rare lamb on chickpeas for me, tiger prawns Tawa Jingha for Nuala and tandoori chicken in a dry sauce for Christine, with lots of bread, rice and a rich black dahl. The two hour time slot wasn’t a problem, dinner took about two hours. It was pricey, but worth the money for a special night out. We had a bottle of Sula Sauvignin Blanc, which was fun.

Christine and Nuala in Benares

After dinner we headed over the Vauxhall for a drink at Barcode, just made it in by 10, before we had to pay for entrance. The music was great (although Nuala wasn’t very popular with the DJ for asking him for Freddie Mercury requests). Nuala was very popular with some of the customers, who though she looked like someone out of EastEnders. Michael joined us for a few drinks, after coming down to join us from work. We lasted till about 11.30, and I was pretty shattered, so Christine, Nuala and I walked back to the hotel, whilst Michael went out to Starkers. I had been planning on joining him, but I was too tired so he went on his own. I was even too tired to join Nuala and Christine in the hotel bar for a night cap, where apparently they met a nice lawyer that bought them drinks.

Christine and Graham in Barcode
Graham and Nuala in Barcode

Michael came back around 2, but then I spent the rest of the night in the loo being ill, probably food (I hope it’s not Benares!). It was a long night for both of us. Michael had to leave to go back to work at 7.30, and I didn’t meet Nuala and Christine till 10.

We headed out to Piccadilly, where Nuala and Christine had breakfast and I had a cup of sweet Earl Grey. We went to Fortnums, which now seems to have priced itself completely out of anyone normal shopping there. I can’t imagine anyone but rich tourists buying the things there. We also went to the Japanese Sweet Shop there, Kamakura Minamoto Kitchoan, which Nuala loves. We brought a few sweets! From there, up Regent Street which, sadly, has largely all the same shops as Westfield! We bought a few present things and then headed into John Lewis, where we tried to hunt down a nice glass teapot for Christine to buy me for Christmas. (I broke the last one a few months ago.) We came out with some Christmas-scented candles.

Took the 88 bus from Regent Street pretty much back to the door of the City Inn: via Trafalgar Square and Westminster, so a good bus route. Nuala picked up her mobile phone (which she’d left in her room) and we picked up our bags and then headed home. Me to my bed (for 15 hours) and Christine and Nuala to a long train journey with bus replacement 🙁

Twitter Tools

Twitter Tools is a great plugin for WordPress, and it makes me look good on Facebook, because all my blog posts get broadcast on Twitter, then pulled onto Facebook, all without me doing any work.

Anyway, it’s bust for the moment, this is a test post to see if I’ve fixed it by rolling back to Twitter Tools 1.0, from 1.51a.

Google App voice recognition

image537380250.jpgGoogle released a new application bringing voice recognition to the iPhone. It works best with a “North American accent”, which might explain why my command to ’email Nuala’ launched a Google search for a ‘male gorilla’, or perhaps there is another explanation…

Lunch in La Tasca

image325141454.jpgMichael’s mum sent us some Telegraph vouchers for half price food at La Tasca. We had a relaxing lunch there today with a half bottle of manzanilla sherry, and lots of plates of tapas. This set us up for a gentle wander around town, popping in to a few shops and not spending much money! Got a warm pair of gloves from Rohan, and suspect my granny would have loved them.

Tweets of the Week (2008-11-16)

  • The Holiday Inn in Kowloon is a rip off! Wish we were staying at the airport hotel. http://snipurl.com/5ecd4 #
  • Pleased to be back in the UK. Making good progress on getting back home to Cambridge. #
  • Almost at Sarah’s for the first drop off. http://snipurl.com/5goie #
  • @bethfromabove I was in China for two weeks on a work trip around 15 universities. #
  • Home at last! #
  • Slept for nine hours last night, but still feeling like I need more. #
  • Enjoying my Chinese tea from Xiamen and listening to ‘Suicide’ #
  • Had lunch in my dressing gown: it really is time to get dressed! #
  • Making a chilli #

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