Archive for the 'Europe' Category

Welcome to the UK

Welcome to the UK, please enjoy our 30 minute sky tour circling London.

Welcome to Heathrow airport, please enjoy the 20 minute tour of Terminal 3 and feel grateful that you didn’t land in terminal 5.

Welcome to Terminal 3, the escalator is broken but lugging your bag up the stairs will be a good warm-up for the 3.6 miles you still have to walk to get to immigration.

Welcome to Heathrow immigration, now that we are so friendly with Europe you can enjoy bonding with your European counterparts in the half-hour queue. If you are from outside the EU carry on through!

Welcome to the London Underground, when traveling, please purchase an Oyster card to avoid imminent bankruptcy and be thankful that you still have money in sterling.

Welcome to the Piccadilly line, please ignore the 10 minute unexplained pause in the middle of the tunnel- this is a perfect opportunity for you to put your makeup on.

Welcome to London Liverpool Street station, going somewhere? Who needs their life savings anyway?

Welcome to Ipswich, actually you’re probably not welcome around these parts, so get out quick

Welcome to Levington, Suffolk- take big cleansing breaths on a long march through the couuntryside in your wellies and then dunk digestive biscuits into the finest-made cup of PG-tips in the world and realise that you really do miss home after all.

20 Reasons British food ain’t half bad

1. Marmite (not just yeast extract on toast)

2. Heinz baked beans (canned food has never tasted this good)

3. Birds custard mix (foolproof and fail safe. There’s no other way to eat crumble)

4. Atora vegetable suet (you can’t make a steamed pudding without it)

5. Anchor butter (toast, crumpets, scones you name it, it goes with it)

6. Cotswold Legbar eggs (beautiful tinted blue shells and a yolk so yellow it’s orange)

7. Jamie Oliver (bringing sexy back to cooking)

8. Green & Blacks Chocolate (take a seat Hershey’s, you never stood a chance)

9. The Metric System (grams are more accurate than ounces. period.)

10. Bubble and Squeak (the only way to use up Sundays leftovers)

11. Sunday Pub Lunch (booze, roasties and football- what better ways are there to spend Sundays?)

12. Back bacon (more meat, less fat- isn’t that what we all want?)

13. McVities Hobnobs (perhaps the greatest biscuit of all time)

14. Porridge (oats, milk and water = cheap, healthy and satisfying breakfast)

15. Hula hoops (what other crisp can you nibble off of your fingers?)

16. Sausages (hands down better than any American Weener)

17. Jam Doughnuts (firstly, the spelling is better and secondly the jam)

18. PG-tips tea (voted Englands best tea served with milk, I travel with bags of the stuff)

19. Waitrose (the finest supermarket shopping experience you will ever have)

20. Maldon Sea Salt (crispy flakes of salt that melt in your mouth)

A BIG Family Christmas

With a family as big as mine, Christmas remains a far cry away from a quiet little retreat in the country. And on the years when we don’t all manage to fly our carbon fueled feet half way around the globe to meet up, it all feels a bit too quiet.  For one thing, when there are twenty-one family members- including three teenage boys (plus another six men who eat as if they still were), there’s a impressive amount of time, planning and stamina that goes into feeding them throughout the week of Christmas. With several birthdays to celebrate, big family Christmas’s always resemble my first week at University, complete with freshers flu at the end.

I grumbled in a recent posting that the obligation of Christmas present buying was tedium incarnate and whilst this Christmas proved no different to any other, bigger appetites meant there was an increased focus on the need for food. And lots of it. Don and I usually make decisions about what to eat when we’re hungry but here- it was no use deciding what to eat for lunch at lunchtime, menus for mealtimes were devised over lengthy group emails back in October and duties were divided up around the family.  And yet, for some reason, by some stroke of serious luck I managed to slip through the sieve, so to speak, and got off rather lightly. Although there was something rather unnerving about how much I enjoyed not being the one wiping away sweat beads dashing  between stove and dining room table. The price for such a luxury as actually having a holiday when on holiday was to make pavlovas for dessert one night.  Easy.  Or so one would assume.

If I’m ever asked to make a pavlova in somebody else’s kitchen again there will be a few pointers that will need clarifying before I agree to it:

1/  Will there be a bowl big enough to whisk eight egg whites in?

2/ Will there be a baking tin big enough to cook my pavlova on?

3/ Will there be an electric whisk?

To say that I got an arm workout that day would be grossly underselling my efforts. My appreciation for electric kitchen tools has never been more defined- and neither have my biceps for that matter.

Happy New Year!

The Rules of Flying

In retrospect travelling just short of 8,000 miles to go on holiday to a place with a nine and a half hour time difference and a reputation for chronic cases of diarrhoea was not the most thoroughly thought-through decision that I’ve ever made. And neither was the twenty-hour “express” train from Jaisalmer to Delhi, nor was the lugging back of several steel cooking pans in my suitcase, nor was the going back to work with minimal recovery time, nor was the thinking that I’d get a good burger from room service on my last night in a country that doesn’t eat beef. But above all – the absolute worst decision that I made on the entire trip was eating the plane food on my journey home.

I have three straightforward rules when flying, which maintain my sanity and wellbeing despite frequently having the opposite affect on my travelling companion. The rules are as follows:

1/ Early is happy. Departure to the airport takes place at the designated time having taken into account all possible delays, distractions, disasters and pit stops that could theoretically take place en route. As a child I ran to catch far too many a plane for my always-in-a-rush-father and the resulting later-life trauma has made me a stickler for punctuality.

2/ Try for an upgrade whenever appropriate- and it generally always is. Or in the worst case scenario make sure that you find a seat, which has an empty one next door.

3/ Never eat the plane food. Unless of course the first part of rule number two is deemed a success, as it is well known that food in the front of the plane is far superior to that in Piggery class.
Continue reading ‘The Rules of Flying’

Myers of Keswick and the Calling for Sausages


Since moving to New York, I have not once visited either of the two city-renound British food shops Myers of Keswick and Tea & Sympathy. This is not for lack of fancy for Heinz Baked Beans, Marmite, PG Tips and Digestives- it’s just that since moving we’ve had rather a lot of UK visitors who only receive a towel and clean sheets on presentation of the such favoured items. Nothing is free in this life, even for friends and family looking for a bed.
The summer heat however, seems to have put off further hotel-avoiding visitors and our supplies have nearly all but dried up. Fortunately, New York has a rather strong British contingent and the demand means that the most basic English goods can be found in just about all the main New York supermarkets. I even read recently that there is a campaign for a “Little Britain” in the city- although if this has any resemblance to the TV show, then I think I might be forced in shame to adopt an American accent after all. Continue reading ‘Myers of Keswick and the Calling for Sausages’

A Pickle with Okra & Summer Roasted Vegetables

If I were to be stuck on a desert island with one item of food, it would not be okra. If I were to be stuck on a desert island with a thousand items of food, okra would still not be on my list. In fact, if I were stuck on a desert island, with only okra and the beach to eat, I would probably spend my first deserted week developing recipes for sand cakes. Continue reading ‘A Pickle with Okra & Summer Roasted Vegetables’

So New York and So British Scones

“You’re so New York!” my sister blurted out to me as we chatted away on the phone, the other day.

“What?!” I replied, with some hostility.

“You sound SO New York, now” she guffawed down the phone, with a level of obnoxiousness that only a sibling can deliver. Continue reading ‘So New York and So British Scones’

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