Thursday, 23 July 2015

Not all Crocs are ugly

I've got some new shoes and they're amazing. They're SO comfy, look really nice, had loads of compliments and don't make my feet stink - which, let's be honest, in this weather is pretty important. They're Crocs!!! But they're not the ugly things doctors and gardeners wear, they're actually nice.  They retail for £39.99 but you can get them cheaper on ebay.  They also come in some really funky colours, in flip flop version and in wedges.

Anyway tenuous link with title out the way, I've found my new favourite restaurant in Peckham - Persepolis/Snackistan.  Calling it a restaurant is pushing it a little bit, it's a shop with a deli counter, a grill by the till (ooh that rhymes) and some tables shoved between the shopping aisles.  There's one chef who's also the shop keeper and she's got bright red hair and is about 60.  It's brilliant.

The main menu is simple and dirt cheap, and reflects the owner's love of all things Persian.  Hot drinks come with shards of coloured sugar.  Service is a bit slow (because there's only one chef) but it is definitely worth the wait.

ginger, orange and lemon tea, sugar shards, moccachino

Me, Bex and Liz went last week, and I enjoyed it so much I went back with Dan on Saturday morning for brunch - so keen that I arrived half an hour before it was even open and had to kill time in the nearby charity shop.  When I went with the girls, I had scrambled eggs with dates on a flat bread - it was probably the best meal I have almost ever had ever.  Well definitely the best egg dish I have ever had. It was an outstanding dish and even better at £3.50.  I finished with the 'tuck shop sundae' which came in a convenient child size portion as well as an adult size - i don't think I would have coped with the adult one.  This was a vanilla sundae with lots of turkish sweets riddled between the ice cream - and topped with saffron candy floss (which looked a little like roof insulation).

eggs and plantain (£3.50) and turkish eggs (£4.00)

hot baklava melt & turkish delight sundae (£3.50 each)

On my return on Saturday morning, I had the scrambled spiced eggs with plantain - also delicious, but I think I preferred the date eggs.  Dan had the Turkish eggs which I stole a bit of when he wasn't looking (the old 'oh look over there' trick) which was also very very yummy.  The bill came to £18 for 2, and we both had a drink, main and pudding. Bargain!

The surroundings are pretty cool - you can buy all the ingredients Sally (owner) cooks with in the shop, to recreate dishes at home.  Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area - and perhaps book ahead if you want dinner - it is getting busy!

On Sunday I went to the Lambeth Country Show.  I am gutted I have lived in London 5 years and never been to it - it was bloody brilliant! I was on a date and it was a great place to take a person to, as there was so much to see and do that if you had nothing to talk to them about there'd be enough distraction! Luckily we didn't have that problem, he was a really nice and we had a good laugh. No immediate spark though. (cue comments from my mother about sparks not being reliable bla bla bla)

We watched real life jousting, which was very funny, stroked some sheep and owls, saw some badly dressed llamas, drank cans of beer in the sunshine and watched some reggae. I will definitely be back next year with a picnic, beer and friends!

Excuse the pants photos below, my photography has been useless of late.

Monday was Dan's birthday - happy birthday Dan!! We took the birthday boy out for a pizza then sat on the newly opened rooftop terrace at The Palmerston which was nice, we don't often do things as a house so it made a nice change.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Isle of Wight - Part Two

A good night's sleep was both a blessing and a curse as I woke up refreshed but stiffer than ever.  I hobbled to the toilet then realised I couldn't bend my knees to sit on the loo, so had to do a weird shimmying action onto the loo seat.  I was slightly concerned at this point as we had planned to drive round the island today, then had the long drive back to London - which would be very difficult without functioning knees!

Luckily they loosened up with movement, so after a shower and breakfast (we ate LOADS in an attempt to get our £5 worth) we jumped into the car to go see The Needles.  I love geography so this was a dream come true. (And I wonder why I don't have a boyfriend...)

On the way we drove through Godshill and decided to stop and explore - the village was beautiful, filled with little thatched cottages - but it was the chocolate shop sign we saw that made us stop! We parked right outside the model village, saw that it only cost £4.50 to get in and spent a good hour wandering up and down the mini high street and lanes, getting excited at the mini fully functional train set, and taking endless photos of the whole thing.  I think every town should have a mini model village of itself!!

a model of the model village of the model village!!

Doris the pigeon

Funny way of doing things - caging the lions but not the dinosaurs, haven't they seen Jurassic Park?

amazing detailing!

We continued our explorations of Godshill, spending an inordinate amount of time in the chocolate shop - they had a workhop at the back where you could see the chocolate being made.  Well - melted, and moulded and decorated.  There was also a weird art gallery thing that featured dead hippy images (think swirls of pastel colours, bits of glitter and spooky faces).

We hopped back into the car on our way to the Needles, stopping on Military Road for a photo of the beautiful view before us.

The Needles were a disappointment!!! I wish I had done more research.  It's a huge tourist trap - you pay £4.50 to park the car, and that gets you entry to the little theme park thing they have there - which is very tacky and a bit of a joke.  Too late did I realise that you can actually do a nice walk to an abandoned Victorian fort and look down on the Needles, rather than spend time wandering about the tourist atrocity at the top of the cliff.  You live and you learn!

It wasn't all bad, we got given a voucher for money off the rides (a carousel!).  We decided for novelty's sake to get the rusting, ancient chair lift down to the sea - though it takes all of 4 minutes and isn't the most life changing experience ever.  We chilled on the beach for a bit with Sepha busying herself by taking selfie after selfie for the Specsavers Competition.  Bless.

All too soon it was time to leave the Isle of Wight, so we went on a hunt for fish and chips before catching our ferry back to the mainland.  We couldn't find any authentic fish and chip shop fish and chips, so settled for a posh one in a pub by the ferry harbour.

The weather was beautiful so we both fell asleep on the top deck and pretended we were in Thailand rather than Blighty, then made the uneventful drive back to London Town.

It was lovely to escape London for the weekend - so much so that I did the same this weekend.  The weather was stunning so I headed down to Whitstable (Tankerton to be precise), found some free parking, and sat by the sea for a few hours just chilling out solo.  It was lovely! The beach was dead and it was some very good quality alone time after a busy week at work.  I am enjoying my own company more and more - so much so that I am concerned I will end up a hermit!!!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Isle of Wight - Part One

When Sepha and I were discussing our next adventure, we had originally planned another Bucharest style mini break.  However, skyscanner was showing no cheap flights for anywhere decent for the weekend we’d put aside, so we thought a little closer to home.

Instead, we decided to conquer the Isle of Wight. By Bicycle. In a day.  Inspired by David and Cesca, who are currently walking 1100 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats (raising money for Crone’s and Colitis along the way - if you’re feeling lovely you can donate to their cause here and read their blog here

Our route

I put the idea to Sepha, who said all of the yesses, and we started to plan the following weekend.  After speaking to a few bike hire shops, who emphasised the difficulty of the ride, and the hilliness of the Isle of Wight, she kindly said “you know, we could just split the ride into two, cycle half the island, stay the night and cycle back to where we left the car…”.  (Sepha is a machine and capable of cycling round the Isle of Wight three times in a day if she had wanted to  – she was definitely looking out for me when suggesting this.) There’s a bag drop service for just that – due to the size and shape, the Isle of Wight is an excellent destination for cyling and walking holidays, and the Move My Bag service will pick up your bags and drop them at your next destination for a small fee.

However, I was not to be persuaded – I’m stubborn at the best of times, didn’t want to spend an extra £16 on having our bags moved, or spend time looking for 2 different hotels, and wanted a challenge – I stuck to my guns and promised not to moan too much – we were going to cycle all 100km of the ‘round the island’ route in a day. Simples!  Besides – what’s the worst that could happen?!

We booked the cheapest accommodation we could find, a late Friday evening ferry and found a bike hire place.  We were all set!

We left as early as we could get away from work on the Friday, trying to beat the traffic – which we managed very well, leaving us with 2 hours until our ferry.  We had booked the Wightlink from Portsmouth to Fishbourne which was a good, efficient service.  The outward ferry was very swanky and even had a ‘teenscene’ area filled with beanbags – but you had to be between 11-15 to use it, shame! 

We arrived at 11pm and drove in the darkness to our hotel in Shanklin - The Mayfair.  It’s not the nicest place and massively overpriced considering the d├ęcor – plus breakfast is £5 a day and really very shoddy.  My scrambled eggs on toast resembled a solid egg bowl with a few air pockets in.   However the room was clean and served its purpose and it was the cheapest we could find, so there’s that.

In the morning we walked down to RouteFifty7, a bike hire place located within a holiday caravan park.  The owner was an affable man, who thought we were crazy.  Sepha chose a lovely white and pink Bianchi road bike whilst I picked the (with hindsight, not that suitable) hybrid and off we went on our merry way.

After 30 or so minutes I was lulled into a false sense of achievement – we’d been cycling along the coast so it was very flat, the weather was cool and calm, and we’d already passed two towns.  This was going to be fine!!!   We met our first hill and tackled it with gusto, then checked the route map and elevation – we’d done the first hill on the map that looked steep and it wasn’t too bad – woohoo!!!

Then we went round a bend, and looming in front of us was the actual hill that was shown on the map…our previous one was merely depicted as a little bump…damn.

Thighs pumping and lungs burning I made it, but I did wonder if perhaps I had bitten off more than I can chew…

After a particularly steep hill that had me gasping all the way up it, we stopped for a coke and cake break in a quaint village overlooking a village green, and the corner shop sold home made cakes and locally grown produce at very reasonable prices – I was falling in love with the Isle of Wight!

We continued to cycle through chocolate ox villages, country roads and wooded pockets of shade – we had chosen the anticlockwise route and kept nodding and smiling to the lycra clad racers coming in the opposite direction.  They looked pretty fresh faced and were putting us to shame – we later discovered that they were half way through a 100 mile race that starts in the new Forest, does a lap of the Isle of Wight and back on the ferry to the New Forest again – madness!! 

We made it to Cowes fairly easily, where the chain ferry across the estuary was a welcome break.  Now we were on the northern straight of the island, and the wind picked up substantially.   The blessing was the roads were fairly flat, but cycling against the wind is almost as hard as cycling up hill, especially when you’re knackered, but the nice seaside views across to Portsmouth made the trek a little more bearable.

We decided to stop at Yarmouth for lunch – a little over half way on our route.  Having only packed water and peanuts to sustain me, I was feeling slightly light headed by this point so it was a welcome break!  We found a pub garden and rested our weary legs, and I downed a pint of the finest blackcurrant and soda water, not realising how thirsty I was.  Everything hurt. My lower back, my shoulders, my knees, but  mostly my undercarriage.  I don’t think I have ever felt so saddle sore. I went to the toilet to check it was all still there – I thought maybe I had squished it all so much that it was all gone. My poor fanny! It even burned to pee it was so sore. I had bought those sexy padded pants for the ride so god knows what it would have been like without them on, I can’t even bear to think about it.

It was at this point Sepha said the magic words “We can just cab it back now”.  I was sorely tempted.  My brain and body argued with themselves – pride versus happy body, but pride won, so I jumped back on the bike and we headed off down to Freshwater.  This was a pleasant, welcoming flat cycle past the River Yar  which finished off our northern island cycle nicely.  We took a slight detour for the southern island section – the cycle route takes you inland but we wanted to stay on the coast as the views were stunning (and we hoped there would be less hills).  

It was on this road that my left knee started to give me jipp, with a shooting pain from just under my patella down my shin. Ow!! I also developed a chronic case of indigestion which made it hard to breathe without being in pain and my stomach cramping. I was breaking!!! Sepha was powering on through up ahead and I was reduced to a pootle 100m or so behind her, getting off every now and then on the longer hills to stretch my sore knee.  We had a very welcome break on a grass verge (which had never felt so comfortable and inviting to lie on) before setting off again.  We were on the home stretch now!!! One last final hill (which even Sepha didn’t bother to attempt – Blackgang Chime you are a killer of a hill!) led to a huge down-hill stretch where we didn’t need to pedal for about a mile and a half, riding on the propulsion, absolute bliss!!

The final part of the ride was a cycle path from Wroxxall to Shanklin, nice and flat which we took at leisure, before collapsing on the floor, dumping the bikes beside us and breathing a sigh of relief that we’d done it!! 

We hobbled back to the hotel for a quick freshen up before dinner on the esplanade and a well deserved and welcomed sleep.

Dusky pink sunset on the Esplanade