We paid a return visit to the Brandenburg Tor, a lovely sunny evening and everyone was being very good natured, even the horses who must be very tired of giving people rides around the streets, we saw one where clearly the girl had been proposed to so she was riding round with a group of friends and a sign saying “I said yes”. In the background you can see the famous Hotel Adlon where amongst others Bernie Gunter was for a time the ‘house’ gumshoe. Of course it has been mostly rebuilt now but you get the general idea.
Friday evening saw us making our way to “Honca”, a Turkish restaurant we had discovered on our previous visit. It was just as good, if not better. The food flavour combinations are simply exquisite, and all the little extras like the ‘amuse bouches ‘, the petit fours and the liqueur made it a perfect evening.
On Saturday morning we visited the very splendid natural history museum and saw the dinosaurs, but much more impressive were the huge collection of specimens, mostly fish as far as I could tell. Here is a taster…
It was starting to fill up with kids and their fathers ( were they all divorced or perhaps their mothers wanted some time to themselves?) and we had a very tricky journey to make across the city to meet up with Carl Ryan, who had worked with G.. in Taipei and was now working in Berlin. We only knew him through Facebook so it was going to be a curious meeting.it was really hot by now, so not the sort of weather you want to make transportation mistakes in. It took 3 underground trains and a tram ride but we got there with 5 minutes to spare (he was late!) On the underground I asked a guard for directions and the tramp who was speaking to him said “Brexit, it is a disaster”. Only in Europe do you get well educated “dossers”.
We met up with Carl in a Lebanese restaurant and had a wonderful lunch outside in the sun. He was very likeable and it seemed like we had known him for years. The conversation didn’t flag at all and afterwards, when we said goodbye I really felt that we had made a good friend.
By now we were fairly weary so we retraced our steps and headed back to our hotel for a lie down and some serious people watching, with a beer.
A friend of mine is soon to return to China so we are having them to supper tonight. Having friends round is always a good excuse for clearing surfaces and putting away all those bits that have mounted up over the weeks, otherwise known as clutter!
It’s also an excuse to dig out some old recipe books and compose a menu. As we have been to Italy a couple of times this year we are having two deserts from Italy. The first one is a Scicillian Orange and Almond Cake with orange cream and the second is a favourite of mine, bread and butter pudding with apples and oranges. We have so many apples at the moment it’s good to find a different recipe that makes use of them. The Bread and Butter pud has yet to be baked so it’s not looking particularly alluring at the moment.
I’m also doing a venison pie with roast spuds and Brussels sprouts cooked in butter with chestnuts and lardons. The chestnuts are from the garden, it’s so lovely to pop outside and gather what you need!
A whole week of sunshine preceded our trip to France so we were rather dreading that the weather would break when the time came for us to be off. It was a lovely sunny day on the Monday when I drove Flora out to the cattery and luckily for us it continued to be good for our trip.
We went over to Poole for the Monday evening and stayed at that well known hostelry, The Premier Inn, as we had an early boat the next day. As it happened we had to be there even earlier as one of the ramps on the boat wasn’t working, which meant that everyone who was on the second floor of the boat had to drive on, turn around, and go into a parking space backwards! Not the best thing to have to do in a new car but I was fine and luckily no one drove into me. The crossing was amazingly calm and the boat was not too busy so all in all a good journey.
We went straight to Briquebec and settled into our room before going out to explore the sights and to have a beer in our favourite PMU. We had supper in the castle dining room, a magnificent repast, and afterwards coffee in the lounge. Early to bed, but not before catching up on the news, there had been terrorist bombings at the airport and metro in Brussels.
As it was bright and sunny we went to Carentan for a look around and then off to St Vaast for lunch. Unfortunately the seafood place was undergoing a refurb. But had a good lunch in a little bistro. I didn’t get my oysters but all was not lost as I had them as a starter that night at the hotel.
On the way back we called in at Valognes where there were massive road works, as usual. We walked around and came across a bit we hadn’t seen before! We also called in at Negreville to see the church and walk around the seemingly deserted village. After our supper that night we had a last wander around Briquebec before turning in.
Our last day, a little overcast but otherwise fine. We went to the supermarket to get petrol then off to Saint Sauveur le Vicomte to see the church, Coutances, where we had a very good lunch, then slowly back via the coast, gun emplacements and Montebourg, making a last call at the Auchun supermarket outside of Cherbourg and before going to the boat. Unbelievably, although it was fairly windy, we again had a smooth crossing and this time the ramps on the boat were working!
Unfortunately it was raining when we arrived in Poole and we had thick fog on the journey home but we got back in the end about midnight. The next morning I went and rescued the cat!
I am continuing to take Flora into the garden, and today managed to get a few jobs done out there as the weather was so good. Unfortunately it is far too wet to do any digging but I cleared the ferns so that the daffodils can grow through and I cut down all the dead flower heads so that I had several barrow loads full for the compost heap. Flora had a good couple of hours out there but came in a few minutes after me, so she is getting to know the ropes. Now she is sleeping, stretched out in front of the log burner. I wish I could take some photos of her out of doors but she doesn’t stay still for a second.
I had a tentative go at painting this afternoon. Having not picked up a paintbrush since November I am definitely rather rusty but I will just have to crash through that and it shouldn’t take too long to get up to speed.
Mum has a Tablet so she is getting used to sending emails and shopping online! I am going to see her in a few weeks so it will be good to see how she is progressing.
We went out for lunch on Thursday and this time we tried Michael Caines Abode it was really good and not too expensive. Friday evening saw us at the Nothcott for Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis, they were hilarious and I could easily have watched them for twice as long.
We are already into 2014 by quite a few days and I realise that I haven’t made a blog entry since before Christmas!
Flora has grown quite a bit since my last entry, she is very muscular and likes nothing better than some rough and tumble with Hyw. I try to stay clear of her when she is in fighting mode as even in fun, her claws draw blood from me very easily. I have been taking her into the garden everyday for the last week. It is really fun to see her discovering everything for herself, climbing right to the top of trees and then having to pick her way down again. I have to go with her to make sure she is safe with the road but more importantly to make sure she doesn’t run into any of the big males (cats) who slope around the village.
Christmas seems like an age ago. It was very wet at times but other days we had sunshine for a spell. Mum came by coach the Thursday before Christmas, Matt, Mo and Verity came on the Sunday. I had seen so many cooking programmes before Christmas that I couldn’t make my mind up what to make, so I made them all! Tom Kerridges turkey roll, orange and almond cake, Christmas ice cream, plum sauce, brussels with pears. Tom Kitchin’s stuffed Parma ham with goats cheese etc. Glynn Purnele’s monster sausage roll and my own recipe for north African lamb. Although there were only 6 of us we were all together for quite a few days so we seemed to get through masses of food. Mo left us to visit her family in Northern Ireland on Boxing Day afternoon. She got there just in time as they had quite a severe rain storm. The weather was pretty good so we came back via Topsham but it was changing as we got there so we didn’t stay for long. On the Friday we went to see The Hobbit, not bad but somehow I was underwhelmed by it.
By the following Monday, Verity, the last to leave us was gone but only until the next day as we went up to Bath for New Years Eve. We went to The Star and later to St James Wine Vaults where we played bar billards, then down to the abbey for 12 o’clock bells and a few fireworks. We drove home the next morning as it was torrential rain so there was no hope of going round the shops or anything.
Gwilym’s month long stay from his birthday until the beginning of December seems even longer ago. Whilst he was here we went to The Nobody Inn for lunch, had several nail biting moments sending off various forms for his visa etc, that got lost in the post, spent the day choosing wedding rings and then decided to get them online. In fact they were such good value I got one for myself at Christmas! Gwilym and I went to Bexhill to see nan, and had a riotous lunch with Thelma and Peter and their friend. Gwilym went to Bristol to see Verity again and of course she and Matt came here to see him. All too quickly it was over and he was off to HK for his wedding!
I think I’ve caught up everything now, time for another Strepsil to sooth my sore throat.
As I write this, Laurie, number 2 son, is in London and no doubt starting to think about getting himself together and making the journey to Heathrow, and thereafter Hong Kong to Taipei. Hundreds of people make the flight everyday, indeed the boys friend, Doris, went out there yesterday, but it still seems a long way off and I know that I won’t be seeing him for another year. Enough of this gloom, what did we do this year? Laurie’s first week was spent with him catching up with old friends and culminated with the wedding of his old friend Patrick. We did go to the cinema together though and saw the new Steve Coogan film ‘Alpha Papa’, not a very memorable title but good to see Alan Partridge revived and worth a few chuckles.
Week two was upon us all too quickly with the rest of the family arriving on different days! Verity and Rich on Wednesday, Matt on Thursday and mum on Friday. It was great to have everyone come to see Lol. The youngsters went to Sidmouth and Chagford in one day (opposite sides of the county), and swam in the open air lido.
Vast quantities of food were consumed as the week progressed.
Saturday was the Party in the Park which this year was being held in the pub garden. It was great fun and all the family were able to attend though sadly Rich had returned to London for another party. We danced the night away and everyone said it was the best party ever, the Steel band, Pangea, were excellent.
Sunday saw the first of the departures until on Tuesday we were left with some peace for Laurie’s last few days. We went for a meal on Wednesday lunchtime and decided to try ‘the Nobody Inn’ at Doddiscombeleigh. It was lovely weather and our meals were delicious. We shall definitely go there again. Thursday was again bright and sunny and we took Lol to the station to catch the 12.30 pm train. What can I say, except it was lovely to have him around, pottering in the kitchen, mowing the lawn and generally just being there.
I was able to give Laurie his quilt which, as we speak, is making its way to Heathrow with him. He came with an empty suitcase but he has been buying shoes, and presents so that he will have plenty to remind him of home and jars of Branston pickle for his friends!
Safe flight, we’ll be thinking of you.