I ate 5 donuts (doughnuts? The anal part of me (i.e. all of me, the same part that likes putting brackets within brackets) says yes, the actually having to think of other people part of me says “stop being such a prig”) yesterday. I’d probably eat any donuts put in front of me, in any situation, but 5 is quite a lot, especially when accompanied by two sandwiches, a brownie, a crumpet* and a half, a glass of elderflower cider, a glass of elderflower** prosecco and four cups of tea.
I was put in this staggeringly perfect situation thanks to the delightful Hannah, who is a friend of B’s from their Masterchef days and who still juggles cooking astonishing spreads of mouthwatering fare with a full time, high pressure job. Oh, and writing – the reason behind the donut orgy is that she’s compiling recipes for her 9th book, and we’ve been requested to act as guinea pigs for four of her newest recipes.
Not that the non-donut options were disappointing (her brownie was breathtakingly perfect – I can’t even think of how to describe it, other than “I’ve never had a better brownie and I never will”), but the donuts were something special. There were four on test: Rose petal, coconut, coffee, and pecan pie. The two former ones will appeal to the fluffier type – pink icing and a heart shape for the rose petal, which was the lightest in both flavour and consistency, and pink and white coconut shavings and edible glitter for the latter, which were also baked rather than fried, not that you’d know it (I asked to try an ungarnished baked doughnut and it was much more cakey than donutty, but delicious for it and probably easier to eat in significant quantity).
But my two favourites were coffee and pecan pie. The coffee ones looked disconcertingly (I felt a positive comparison to a mass-marketed sugar bomb might be against the spirit of real home baking, though it turns out everyone is friendly in the world of deep-fried dough) like Krispy Kreme donuts – Hannah has the classic “white stripe” perfected, and they were beautifully shaped and glazed – but tasted even better, delicious and not overpowering, with a lovely dreamy filling. And the pecan pie donuts (see pic), octagonal and fried golden and sugared, were the best of all – perfect dough filled with amazing vanilla custard and pecan pie topping. I ate three of them (I am disgusting), and had another for my breakfast today. Oh god, so good.
So thank you to Hannah and Sacha for looking after us, and I hope our orgasmic moans and exhortations were helpful in terms of reviews. I think, after 25 years without, it might just be time to get a deep fat fryer.
* this was no ordinary crumpet. This was a crumpet prepared by an awesome chef, and was a Welsh rarebit crumpet, which turns out to be one of the best savoury food ideas in history. Seriously, try it.
** I’ve never been too keen on elderflower but, as part of the inexorable death march to middle age, this may be changing. The cider was lovely – refreshing is so obvious an adjective as to be basically redundant but I’ll use it anyway, and prosecco with a dash of St Germain liquer took refreshment to the next level. It’s not even close to summer any more, but the drinks at least couldn’t have been more so.
I’m not a great traveller, by which I mean I get nervous and defensive when making long trips. But it turns out I’m also not a great traveller in the sense of being really fuckin’ bad at it. Here, then, is M & B’s guide to royally buggering up a trip to Italy.
So, as you’ll have realised, if we’d remembered we had a car, we would have paid, what, £50 each for long term parking and petrol, got to Gatwick in plenty of time, and had a nice easy drive on empty roads home? Instead we paid just over £200 extra EACH just to travel. What a pair.
There is a post-script to this story. On our return, B went to the cab office to complain about our non-existent taxi. As a result, the owner of the cab firm is refunding us the cost of the Verona tickets at £50 a week. Back of, and indeed, the net.
Over the last few months we’ve been moving house. As a result, we’ve had to deal with a large number of companies, and the experiences have been, well, mixed.
So, in the spirit of the internet’s role as a place you can say nasty stuff about things without accountability, here’s a rundown of which companies have been cuties and which have been cocknockers.
Better than expected:
But what took the biscuit was that at each stage of the process, we were informed of ANOTHER two week delay which, apparently, isn’t because anything was wrong, or faulty, or out of stock – it’s just how they do things. If that’s the case, tell us in advance, you appalling bunch of arses. Okay, we probably wouldn’t have ordered if we’d known broadband would be activated 2 months to the day after we got the keys (I am being generous here – the sticker on the box says “do not try to activate broadband before 31st May” – Christ knows what would happen. A phone call saying “well look what you’ve done. Are you happy now?”, I expect), but right now I am tempted to wait 29 days of their 30-day “cooling off period” (props for nailing THAT phrase, Mr Murdoch) and then cancel on their ass.
I bet I don’t, though. And bonus points for any of you who read between the lines and figured out my discomfort and hypocrisy in using their services in the first place.
So, in case I wasn’t clear, anyone tempted to sign up for (shameless Google-seducing here, sorry) Sky Talk, Sky Anytime+, Sky Broadband Everyday Lite, Sky Broadband Unlimited or Sky Unlimited Broadband – for the love of God go elsewhere. These people LIE TO YOU, and that’s way worse than mistakes or delays or faulty goods.
Packing. It’s an evocative word. Evocative of deep boredom. I’ve started packing in earnest for this weekend’s house move (something I haven’t done in over 11 years – I’m no mug) and when I shut my eyes, brown cardboard boxes dance and frolic in my mind. Even the ones still flat-packed and tape-naked. Especially those.
I bought a “value pack” from a storage company and I’m now the proud owner of 15 brand new boxes of varying size (plus two free rolls of tape, which smell like a damp toilet – and I know this because one of the characterful features of the new places is a damp – fetid would be too strong a word – toilet under the stairs). And there are more boxes in the loft – not that I can get into the loft as I need the ladder, which is in the shed, but my neighbour has the shed key… but anyway.
That’s my front room, on the right. The first packing task was the straightforward bunging of 20 years of records and CDs (my parents would like to say “apart from the hundreds you stored at our house” at this point) into, out of necessaity, the smallest of the value pack’s offerings. For anyone who grew up in the post-vinyl era and doesn’t realise, records are pound for pound heavier than uranium. I hate carrying around records so much. But, I love records. The things you do for love.
I also realised what an awful lot of CDs I bought at a time when I was really into music – like, REALLY into it – but without a terribly effective level of quality control. If I’m honest, can I actually remember what It’s Jo And Danny sound like? Did I actually BUY that Kinks compilation, or did I win it in a game of Here, Have Some Crap? Bad DJ Shadow is still bad. And being DJ Shadow won’t change that.
So quite a lot is probably destined for the loft. But – and this is the kicker, which will infuriate my girlfriend and turn me into exactly the kind of anal music bore I’ve sort-of-successfully not been for most of the 21st century – I don’t yet know what. It’s Jo And Danny will require a listen, maybe two to be sure. And DJ Shadow is just the kind of hip cut a groovy freak like me wants to have on display, right? Gear!
So if you’re after dodgy nineties indie freebies, ask me in about 4 weeks time whether I’ve been through it all yet. Reckon you’ll get lucky.
Just for the hell of it, here are ten things I miss about being a kid:
Every time a cyclist gets killed or injured in a road accident in London, people raise the issue of the lack of safe cycle lanes in the city. Or rather, they don’t just raise it – it is indeed a shame that they don’t exist – but a significant minority demand that this be rectified for the safety of the 550,000 journeys made by bike every day in the capital.
The problem is, of course, that there’s nowhere to put them. Almost nowhere in central London is there room for cycle lanes that:
The most nebulous of the above, and yet the most important to faster (ahem) riders like me, is number 4. By and large I don’t hold up traffic for more than a small part of my daily commute – I can regularly travel at ambient speed, and indeed I can often go faster than traffic, so in principle I fit *with* traffic, which means I can use the roads as best suit me with minimal inconvenience to big angry metal boxes.
However, if I were ghettoised into a cycle lane which suffered from points 3 or 4, I’d be constantly stopping and starting, just as at risk from motorists turning across me (more so, I suspect, since as soon as you cordon off cyclists they become “not my problem” to drivers), undulating over driveways, chicaning round road furniture, and dodging the inevitable debris that ends up at the side of the road.
Most riders aren’t trying to commute quickly, on silly racing bikes, so these issues are less of a problem for them. But truly safe bike lanes – the holy grail – would work for everyone. And London’s just too tightly packed.
If you think this is too negative or one-sided, or you have other suggestions, I’d welcome comments!
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