Tag Archives: family

Eating My Way Around: Cape Town Fish Market, London

30 Jan

This week, I met with one of my best gal pals, and we visited our meet up haunt, Cape Town Fish Market (Oxford Street, London). It’s a restaurant just off Oxford Street, and it does the most amazing seafood. It even has the tag line “any fresher and you would need a fishing rod”, and the fish swim around in massive tanks, which adds to the whole drama of the place. It’s lovely.

They have a great offer for card holders, so we often meet up on a Tuesday and gorge on the most delicious sushi; California rolls with tempura prawns and a mango wrap, melt in your mouth sashimi and all different types of nigiri, plus wasabi mayonnaise, kohlrabi sauce and of course, soy glaze. It’s a bit pricey, but with the deal card it makes it really reasonable for good sushi (and I am a massive sushi snob) and honestly, I would go on a non deal night, it’s that good.

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Sushi, it makes miso happy

They also have a fairly extensive menu, including my personal favourite, the surf and turf. You think you know surf and turf, right? Hunk of steak covered in prawns?

You can’t even begin to imagine.

This surf and turf is out of this world, and features a real twist on the classic. Instead of steak they present you with twice cooked pork belly, and replacing the prawns are some dainty little scallops. The whole thing comes with wilted spinach, and is by far my favourite meal out. in fact, I love to try different things if I go to the same place twice, but on this occasion, I JUST CAN’T. I fear that I might get food envy if anyone else chooses it and I don’t, so I hedge safely and choose my favourite. And I am never disappointed.

This is my local go to when guests from out of town visit as it’s a bit of a crowd pleaser, and although its busy if you book you are generally guaranteed a table. The staff don’t rush you (I was there 20 mins before my friend this week and they happily let me sit with my wine and browse Facebook) and the general feel of the restaurant is happy and chilled. Just my jam.

Have you been? What is your favourite place to take guests when they are in your town?

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Wise Words From Mum

31 Aug

My mother is one of the most amusing people I know. When her and my sister get together, I spend hours in giggles until my sides hurt and my jaw locks. Often she doesn’t mean to be funny, and when she is trying to be funny she isn’t, but she has the sweetest sense of humour ever, and I love her.

So I thought I would share some of my mother’s mum-isms with you. In love. Because she is going to kill me!

Mum, on Pink’s Dirty Little Freaks “Oh I know this one it’s the dirty little tramps song!”

Mum, proudly getting involved with the younger culture of swearing “I don’t give a flying fig!”

When looking at a picture of three bed bugs on the internet “Ah it’s like the three little bears”.

When assuming her role as Dr Diagnosis when my sister was feeling unwell “It might be Lyme disease… have you been swimming?”
“What are you talking about Mum? Do you mean the rat wee disease?”
“Yes”.
“That’s called Weil’s disease.”
“Oh I thought it was Lyme disease as Lyme Regis is a coastal town and you get it from water.”

My sister “and she was all up in his face shouting at him and calling him a CU next Tuesday and it was terrible!! At the petrol station!”
Mum, after thinking a while “Well it can’t have been that bad an argument if she was planning on seeing him next Tuesday, I’m sure she will get over it.”

This was a snippet of quotes taken over a three hour period last Sunday, I’ll keep posting them as I collect them. Thanks Mum for brightening my days!

This Will Self Destruct In Ten Seconds

26 Aug

My sister has a naughty streak wider than mine. Being the younger one she learnt from my mistakes, and where I tiptoed sensibly around issues and trials, she went full steam ahead behind me, picking her battles by seeing where I went horribly wrong, and where she had room to try it out for herself.

When I was seventeen I had a New Years Eve party. My dad was aware of it but went out, and I had a few friends over for some drinks. Nothing wild, and not old enough to go to an actual pub, that sort of party.

My sister was allowed to stay with us rather than going out with my dad, so I think he was pleased he didn’t have to make arrangements for her. She was quite well behaved, playing Pictionary and Articulate with us and being in awe of all my friends. Unknown to me however, she was going round finishing off all the dregs left at the bottom of other peoples glasses and was steadily getting more and more merry.

It was only discovered quite how drunk she was when she went to hit my friend Iain with a pillow. She drunkenly swung and knocked off one of my Mum’s display plates which lived on the wall above the sofa and had survived there in relative peace for years. My mum absolutely loves these plates; she has a whole collection of them, all with different Japanese scenes on them. We think they are hideous, but each to their own. The plate came flying off the shelf and landed on the floor; there was a panicked look that went between me and the little Tinker like electricity, and silence descended. I tiptoed over and turned the plate, noticing a large piece had chipped off. Danielle went mad. Total panic crossed her face and she started gabbling about how dad was going to kill her etc etc.

I put her to bed.

The next morning she got up and took all the crockery out of the cupboard. When dad found her she had washed and dried all the items, and was putting them all back in the cupboards. She was still drunk.

The difference between the two of us is the consistency of the Tinker Trouble. My sister is on a slow burn; constantly troublesome and prone to do something naughty. When she does things we always try to placate her by saying “oh well, you learn from your experiences” and she always concedes that actually, she probably won’t learn at all.

My naughtiness is worse. Because it comes in waves. Something will make me push the big and shiny self destruct button and I turn into the Tasmanian devil, a whirling dervish of trouble and mischief. Normally sensible me becomes this little bundle of energy who will go out partying and not return till the morning, or dance on the bar and encourage a lock in. Past self destruct moments have included convincing an entire car load of friends to drive to Brighton at 4am because the chip shop was shut in Guildford, and sit and have fish and chips on the pebbles in the rain as the sun came up, or the time I accidently booked a holiday when drunk and ended up leaving for Greece two days later with my housemate. My first button push came at thirteen when me and a friend procured a box of Marlboro reds and snuck out and smoked all twenty in the middle of the night in about half an hour. Needless to say I have never touched a cigarette since as it made me so ill, and I don’t expect to ever do so! Tasmanian Tinker is a bit of a force to be reckoned with, and I secretly quite like her.

Are you constantly trouble, or do you have your moments where you can’t be contained?

As an aside, get well soon to my Northern friend, the mon-keh, who has done something traumatic to his knee while playing rugby and is feeling sorry for himself, sitting at home with too much time on his hands. It has been commented that I never mention in my blog how much I am head over heels in love with him (my blog, I might add which he has only just discovered!)  and so I wholeheartedly apologise for this oversight (this is obviously a joke!). Get well soon. This isn’t a radio station, I don’t do shout outs! I’ve also had a lot of comments recently from people I know about them reading my blog (bit scary. I feel safer being anonymous) which is lovely so thank you to everyone reading. If you like it, if something makes you laugh or you want to say your piece then please comment! It’s so nice to get feedback.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Mischievous Movements of a Cherub ~ Part 2

13 Aug

In 2008 I went on a trip across the world to Australia to visit a friend of mine who had just had a baby. My sister requested that she borrow my most prized possession, my new Vauxhall Corsa that I had only recently bought. I was a little apprehensive; after all it was the most expensive thing I owned, and probably ever will (I have a real issue with the idea of buying a house. It’s the being tied to an area concept, despite the fact I was born and raised less than five miles from where I live today) but I duly agreed. It was insured in her name, and I boarded the flight, leaving my beloved little Betty in my sisters loving hands.

Three days later I got a text message. “there has been an accident with your car.” that was it. As soon as I got the message I tried to cal my little sister, who had turned her phone off as a solution to having any dialogue with me about the state of my car. the phone remained off for four days while I had kittens about the state of my car, imagining that it had been written off and was now crushed somewhere, slowly rusting.

After forty eight hours I got hold of my mother. “ don’t be cross with her she is very worried. She reversed it into a skip.”

Oh. My. Goodness. Any sympathy for her rapidly vanished when I realised it was entirely her fault; there had been no other car to collide with or even any moving object. Nope, my sister had simply not looked, and reversed it into a skip. A large, inanimate object. The knob.

Mischievous Movements of a Cherub ~ Part 1

12 Aug

After posting a little this week about my childhood particularly with reference to my little sister, the angelic looking cherub with a naughty streak a mile wide, I thought I could go somewhere with this. It had mileage. My little sister was naughty and reckless, and therefore often in trouble or up to no good, so I have hundreds of stories where I pointed the finger of blame at my sister. I was never an ally, always a grass. So hereby begins a series of posts named the Mischievous Movements of a Cherub.

When I was four years old, I was girly and pink and into nothing but ballet. I lived in my tutu, ate, slept and breathed dancing and was generally pretty content dreaming of the days I would follow in Darcey Bussell’s steps and dance Swan Lake. When asked what I wanted for my birthday I thought long and hard, and all I could muster was ‘flamingo pink tights’. They had to be this precise shade of pink, and this would make my heart content. I read Drina the Ballerina, watched Angelina Ballerina (the dancing mouse) on the TV, and danced EVERYWHERE.

So when my mum decided to throw me a joint fourth birthday party with a boy down my road, my cake was made in the shape of a four (my mother is by far the best cake maker in the land) and on it was two fondant ballet shoes, with ribbons and piping. I was so happy my heart could have burst.

It was, of course, ruined by my two year old sister. The night before my birthday party, when the house slept and a blanket of dark covered the room, my sister (obviously in early training to be the bane of my life) snuck down the stairs to the kitchen. I’m not sure how she managed to do this without making some sort of noise (we shared a bedroom at the time and it was like Beirut in there) but she did.

The next morning when I woke up, my beloved birthday cake was still there, with one and a half fondant ballet shoes. My chubby little toddler of a sister had snuck down the stairs and gorged on my ballet shoes. Utter. Devastation.

Still not forgiven.

Pet Cemetery

10 Aug

“A house is not a home without a pet.” ~ Anonymous

Children love pets. I think it’s something to nurture, to look after and to own, something that’s alive (hopefully for a while) and will give them unrequited love, even when they have stolen their Lego and bitten their limbs.

In reality, a child will NEVER look after a pet. They will play with it half heartedly, and then allow their parents to do all the hard work of cleaning and feeding and general essential care. Giving it a treat? Sure. Scooping its poop? Not a chance!

My dad decided it was a good idea to get us girls a pet when we were a child. I have always been slightly insane when It comes to fluffy things (even now you’ll hear me in my Worzel Gummidge voice going “its sooooooo FWWWUFFY!!!” when I see a cat / a rat / a unicorn) so I was excited. I was six(ish) my sister was four(ish) when our pet turned up. Having always wanted a kitten I was at least expecting a rabbit, or a hamster, or something fluffy. What did we get?

A bird.

Two decades on I’m still not entirely sure of my dad’s logic behind said bird, but needless to say, two young girls had a bird, that we couldn’t cuddle or pet. But we could look at it! Which we did. A lot. Bird was named Binky, short for Binky Bonky (a firm argument as to why you should never let a child name a pet. A friend of ours named her kittens Poppy and Lovely; her mum had to go and shout “Lovely!!!” in the street when calling the wayward cat in for food) and he was taught to say “Hello” and “Who’s a pretty boy? (stage pause) Binky!!” which he rocked out, show style, at every opportunity. He would sit on the picture frames and poo down the glass, and often would make a bid for freedom by flying full pelt into the sliding glass doors. He also liked to wander up your leg and nibble at the hairs, and once ate half of my Drina the Ballerina book and my Paddington Bear wicker chair before my mum noticed and chased him off, damage done. His nickname was “damn bird” and I wasn’t exactly his biggest fan, especially when he stole my prize possessions and munched on them. I wanted a Guinea Pig!

And then my uncle shouted at him, and he turned savage. My dad was bitten on the bit between his nostrils (ouch) and opening the cage to put food in was like dancing in front of a crowd lobbing knives. No one’s favourite job and therefore general bird maintenance became allocated to dad.

One day, the bird disappeared.

MUM HAD GIVEN HIM AWAY!! My sister was absolutely devastated (“I was the only one who loved him. You gave away my baby, I will never forgive you!” she said in her dramatic way) but the rest of us were just relieved. And thus was the end of Binky Bonky.

My sister never got over the sadness of losing a pet, and decided to get fish. The first three died. Sad times. The next three died. Followed by the next nine. I made a joke in the shop once about how my sisters tank was the place fish go to die (tough crowd, the staff didn’t look best pleased) and bought her a crab which jumped the tank in a suicidal move. It had obviously heard rumour of what happened in that tank. Please note that all fish had to have a burial ceremony and a lolly stick grave stone in the garden; Dad was running out of flower beds and patience for the impromptu cemetery, plus it attracted a lot of cats to the garden. The tank saga ended when she had managed to keep six little fishies alive for a period of time, and one had babies. Excited, she let the babies out into open water too early, and one of the fish ate them all. To add insult to injury the tank heater broke a few days later, and she returned home one afternoon to find the end scene of a war film; a dozen little fish boiled in their own home, floating on the surface lie corpses on the tide. The tank now lives in dads attic ready for when Little Bean decides to become and angel of mercy once again.

My cousin Karli had chinchillas that she loved very much. Two in fact. Turns out chinchilla one was male and chinchilla 2 was female. They had baby chinchillas! And then one day she came down to feed them, and daddy chinchilla had seemingly lost his temper about the cleanliness of the cage and whether his dinner was ready on time, gone mad and eaten all his babies and mummy chinchilla. He thus became nicknamed Hannibal.

There are some occasions where children do not love their pets. Our Lilly lives in relative harmony with Amber, the boxer dog who is old and a bit smelly. Lil generally ignores her, other than when she shouts “Amber smells. SHE FARTED!!” to anyone who will listen. Amber’s face silently tells of the indignation of being an old lady-dog and living with an opinionated three year old.

I’ll leave you with this, it’s not always kids that choose bad names for their pets. First-boyfriend used to work with a slightly mental girl who had two cats, named Furry and Purry. And as far as I know, her mental health was not impaired.

In The Words of Miss Monroe….

21 Jul

I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
Marilyn Monroe

My mum used to always say it to me when things went wrong; if I didn’t pass my ballet exam with the credit I wanted, if I got my heart broken or if a friend moved away.  The same line that never seemed to have any comfort hidden in the words when I was a child; no burrowed little trinket of solace that you would find hiding beneath the sheets of her sayings ,and I always wondered what happiness she expected me to find in these words.

As a kid who always sought information; reading books and studying for exams, I always wanted to know why. What was the reason that this particular event was happening to me, and why not someone else?

It hit the hardest when I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of seventeen, right before my AS Levels and at a time when I was kind of sick of it all happening to me, ‘for a reason’. But as I get older I realise that she was right, that wise mother of mine, and everything does happen for a reason. Just like Marilyn said, sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

And for me it’s about strength of character. All my everything’s happened for a reason, and I now believe that I can take anything that is thrown at me. Yes, I might need a few days in my pyjamas with a family pack of Jaffa cakes and a whole river of tea, but I will bounce back with a “what? Something bad happened?” mentality. That’s just how I roll.

So if you are going through the mill at the moment, looking out the window and seeing nothing but the hammering droplets of rain falling from the angry clouds and your mood is mimicking the thunder, think on this. My mum and Miss Monroe are both right.

Everything happens for a reason. Every action has a reaction. Always remember that what’s meant to be will always find a way to come about.

Wisdom and Wit

14 Jul

The older I get, the more I am turning into my mother. This is a worry to me.

At twenty, I point blank refused to exercise, went to bed late and got up later, and was allergic to cleaning. I lived with boys, so they didn’t mind how untidy the house was or how dishevelled I looked when watching the television, and we cohabited seamlessly. I didn’t worry about the cost of petrol or use coupons (they just cluttered up my purse) and the garden was specifically there to lay in, or to burn food and dice with food poisoning when BBQ season was upon us.

Five years on, I am realising that we are a product of our own destiny. I came to this harsh realisation a year ago when I lived with ex boyfriend in the cottage, and was horrified at the state of the garden. Once the snow subsided and the days got warmer, you would find me at the weekends turning over the soil, spraying the cats as they tried to eat the plants and putting in gorgeous colourful flowers. It made me happy to come home to gorgeous colours surrounding a pretty little chocolate box cottage in the countryside, and this continued until the day that my kittens, determined to have the old me return, figured that if they buried mice in various stages of decay in my beds id probably give up and go back to the TV. I did.

But other aspects of my life have made me realise that the metamorphosis is beginning. I take reusable bags to the supermarket, forever worried that there is a landfill somewhere that is full of bright orange Sainsbury’s bags and that my children will have to eat each other to survive due to the horrible effects our generation had on Mother Earth. I fill my car up in the same place, preferring to save 1p on each litre of fuel, and I now drive safely from a to b, watching the speed limit and tutting at people who pull out in front of me.

I go to the gym (sporadically at the moment) because ‘you get out what you put in’ and I worry about my joints in old age, and I actually take a calcium supplement (something that my mother has been trying to force me to do for years, sneaking it into my orange juice, breakfast and any other foodstuffs she can get her spritely little hands on) to protect my bones. My intolerance to dairy worries me, and so I do this to avoid being totally brittle. Although I think my cheese consumption has this covered!

Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.  ~Author Unknown

Do you see your parents traits in you?

Home

11 May

The definition of the word home is this:

a)      A place where one lives; a residence.

b)      An environment offering security and happiness

c)      A valued place regarded as a refuge or a place of origin.

d)     The place where one was born of has lived for a long period

I think that’s pretty vague, don’t you?

My definition of the word home is somewhere where you belong, where you feel like you are meant to be or somewhere that you can always return to in times of crisis and be welcomed with open arms, no questions asked. I don’t think it necessarily has to be your birthplace, your home town or your house, because a house isn’t a home. A house is four walls and a door; panes of glass and lumps of sand cleverly crafted to protect us from the elements; the wind and rain, the beating of the sun. But it was never designed to protect us from emotions; words and actions that might cause our heart to hurt rather than our bones or skin.

We can have a house, but without feeling like we have a home, are we destined to become nomadic, unsettled personalities struggling to feel welcomed anywhere?

It’s an interesting concept.

My parents split when I was fifteen. As is the way with broken homes, both moved to new houses, and when they sold the family home that I had grown up in I moved into a house share. I was young and wounded, and it seemed like a pretty good idea to me at the time. Best laid plans and all that. So if I am defined by a) and d), does that mean that I am metaphorically homeless? I have never spent a prolonged amount of time in the residence of either my mother or my father, apart from this year when I have been living in (relative) harmony with my dad. Am I a refugee of this home scam?

Where is home to you? To me home is with my granny and granddad, in an upside down house by the creek. The bedrooms are all downstairs and the lounge looks out over the water. In the morning, if you aren’t woken up by my granddad whistling, you will wake to hear the sound of the clicking of the sails being buffered in the breeze; the little yachts moored on the pier waiting for their chance to go out on the open waters. You might sit out on the balcony with my granddad and have a beer, or go for a walk to the town with my granny, or you might visit the shed in the garden where the tooth fairy lives. But if you ever get the chance to go there, I hope you feel like you are going home too. They never ask why you want to be there, or worry you about what is wrong, but make you feel like you have just walked into the front door of the home you have always had.

So it might not be conventional (it seems nothing with me ever is) but its home.

Mary The Fairy

10 May

Children are the victim of their parents stories. Whether it is Father Christmas or the tooth fairy, we will believe anything that our parents tell us. After all, they are our parents!

I think it’s nice. When I was a child, of course I believed in Father Christmas; we left the carrot and the minced pie out on Christmas Eve, and were always astounded when the carrot was nibbled and the minced pie half eaten (we didn’t consider the logistics of such a duty; surely father Christmas couldn’t eat half of every however many billion minced pies left out by children all over the world?!). What magic!

But I also had an undying belief in the tooth fairy. And it was thanks to a cleverly crafted story by my parents and grandparents. I staunchly stood by the fact that the tooth fairy existed at school when mocked by my peers, until one day after being offered money to dust the bookcases in the living room; I found a pot of teeth. Eew. My mother’s nostalgia had been her failing. It would also prove her downfall with my sister’s belief in the fairy too; on a rather heated argument between two warring sisters I told her Mary didn’t exist. My proof was leading her kicking and screaming to the pot, and showing her her manky old milk teeth. Dream shattered.

Back to my fairy. My fairy was called Mary (predictable? How dare you) and she lived in the shed at the end of my granddads garden. I often checked to see if he had left it unlocked, in fear that Mary may become locked in and not be able to give me my tooth money, or in further worry that she might get locked out and die of cold (that coastal wind can get dead chilly in winter!)

Mary had a duty; when she wasn’t collecting children’s teeth and leaving them twenty pence pieces under their pillow (I know kids, TWENTY PENCE. Apparently inflation has caused you to get at least a two pound coin nowadays…) she was responsible for the turning off and turning on of the lap in my grandmother’s sitting room. I now know that automatic timers on lamps are a brilliant invention and a great addition to the tooth fairy myth, but at the time I thought she was the most fabulous creature on earth. At times, when watching the TV at my grannies, my dad would say “Laura, did you see that twinkle? I think it was Mary!” and I’d go off looking for said made up twinkle.

The best thing about Mary (my mother) was that she used to write me letters. I never twigged, as it wasn’t my mum’s writing (years later I cottoned on that if I write all my letters starting at the wrong place, I can totally do the Mary handwriting!) and it was far too clever to be my mum, after all, all the letters were four line rhyming poems!

They would go along these lines:

I hear you lost a tooth today

I had to fly quite a long way

To find it underneath your head

And replace it with a coin instead!

Mary xxx

Honestly, for all that it was a lie, it was the most fantastically crafted elaboration of truth EVER. And I so wanted to believe that she existed and lived in the shed at the bottom of the garden. When I have children I will resurrect Mary, and her spirit will live on.