strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
OK, last meme entry. And again, although Boxing Day was awful, thankfully Christmas Day itself was all right, so I can describe it fairly normally.

I actually began Christmas Day at my sister's house in Warwick, because she had invited me and her old sixth-form friend Duncan over for the evening to keep up our old tradition of toasting in Christmas together at midnight. We had a lovely evening of canapés, drinks and chat, and did our little toast together at midnight (me with raspbery and cranberry juice), even though we were all yawning by that stage. Then Duncan and I bid them goodnight and headed off in my car, under a bright starry sky and taking care to avoid the (very few) other cars and people whom we saw pursuing their own rather drunken-looking paths home. I crept quietly into my parents' house with the benefit of much practice acquired during my teenage clubbing years, and sank into bed.

The next morning, we all got up, had breakfast, got ready and headed back over again to my sister's house in Warwick for Christmas Day itself. We arrived around 11am, and sat down with a round of coffee while we showered Eloise with presents. She is one and a half now, and has very definitely become a little girl rather than a baby:


She also genuinely manages to get even cuter every time I see her. The picture doesn't begin to capture that, because so much of it is about her lovely smiling animated face and her increasingly eloquent chatter, and nor does it even really show off the growing mass of blonde curls hiding at the back of her head. But I hope it gives some idea at least.

Eloise's presents )

Christmas dinner )

Adult presents and Christmas TV )

A decent day all told - and a jolly good thing too, given what followed. :-/

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strange_complex: (Gir cupcake)
There are not actually that many specifically Christmassy desserts, are there? I mean, OK - mince pies, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, maybe Yule log. I can't think of any more beyond those, though.

Still, luckily for me I genuinely love Christmas pudding (and sprouts, and parsnips, and roast turkey - which makes Christmas a very good time for me all round, really). I'll admit that it sometimes seems a bit daunting after what's already been a huge Christmas meal - but that's kind of the point at Christmas, isn't it? I probably wouldn't want to eat it more than a few times a year, either. But those few times I do genuinely look forward to.

My perfect Christmas pudding is moist, rich, aromatic, fruity, and smothered in brandy butter, thick brandy cream and hot brandy sauce. If I can only have one of those, it's the brandy cream which is most important, as it is light and cool and helps to counteract the stodgy rich hot pudding.

I actually made a Christmas pudding three years ago, which I'm happy to report came out very well - genuinely one of the nicest I have ever eaten, in fact. I enjoyed doing it, and I'd love to live the kind of lifestyle where I had the time to do that every year. But it does take a lot of time and effort, and realistically a good-quality pudding from the supermarket is much better value for time, and cheaper to boot.

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strange_complex: (Me Art Deco)
Three years ago, I had just moved into my current house, and jointly celebrated that event and my 31st birthday with a 1920s and '30s-themed housewarming party. Lots of my friends and colleagues came along, as did some of the cheekier neighbourhood cats, and a marvellous time indeed was had.

This year, I decided it was time for a similar celebration to mark my 34th birthday (which is actually on Monday this year), but this time based around a barbecue and without the period theme. 'Cos dressing up is fun, but you can't do the same thing every time. A man turned up from Sainsbury's with eight boxes full of STUFF at 10 o'clock on Saturday morning, and I sprang into action - chopping vegetables, marinading meat, threading things onto skewers and (most importantly) mixing cocktails!

The weather looked decidedly shady for most of the day, but thankfully around 3pm rays of sunshine started to appear, and by the time my first few guests arrived the skies were blue and almost cloudless. My colleague's children ran around the garden while we got the barbecues going (two of them, because they were only diddy ones), and began grilling the first few burgers. And after that everything became a bit of a blur as people arrived, and handed me presents and cards, and I whirled around the place making sure everyone had drinks and introducing people to each other and so forth. But it was a very nice blur! I just have a kind of vague general impression of being surrounded by lovely people all being witty and sociable and exciting and beautiful all around me, and lots of hugs and laughter and (though I say it myself) delicious food and so forth.

Around 9ish it began drizzling a little, but that was OK really, as most people had finished with the barbecues by then, so we just carried on the party inside. An interesting spontaneous gender division occurred, as most of the ladies present ended up in the kitchen discussing various types of relationships, while most of the gentlemen were in the dining room discussing joke websites. But hey - both rooms seemed to be having an awesomely good time, so that is fine. Then around 11ish most of the further-flung guests decided it was about time they started their journeys home, so the scene shifted again to a more intimate gathering of myself, [ profile] ant_girl, [ profile] ms_siobhan and [ profile] planet_andy, chilling out in the lounge discussing serial killers for another hour or so.

And now this morning, here I am browsing through last night's photos, eating delicious Belgian chocolates which somebody gave me and generally basking in the afterglow of a most excellent evening. Many thanks to everyone who came, and especially those who helped keep an eye on the barbecue, which I could not really have managed on my own alongside meeting and greeting everyone and generally being the charming hostess. I'm slightly delicate today, and unlikely to move terribly far from the sofa, but it was definitely all worth it. Give me another three years, and I might be ready to do it again... ;-)

Photos follow under the cut )

Oh, and if anyone wants the recipe for the marsala peaches we had, and on which I got several compliments, Delia is your lady. I shall be enjoying the few which were left over with my lunch today. :-)

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London weekend

Monday, 22 March 2010 13:08
strange_complex: (Twiggy)
My main reason for going to London was to attend a JACT Council meeting on the Saturday morning. I do this every six months, but normally only attend the Ancient History sub-committee (of which I am a member) in the afternoon. This time, though, I was asked to represent our committee on the main Council in the morning, which was quite good fun, actually - I certainly learnt a lot more about how the organisation as a whole works than I knew before.

Sneakily, since my travel to London is being paid for anyway, I usually take the opportunity to catch up while I am there with [ profile] rosamicula, so I did just that this time too. I stayed over with her and the lovely [ profile] itsjustaname (whose new blonde, 20s-style bob looks fantastic on her), and we were also joined by [ profile] qatsi and Mrs. Q. on the Saturday evening for dinner. Much wine was quaffed and conversation enjoyed, while we gorged ourselves on a menu well up to [ profile] rosamicula's usual culinary standards: chicken, chorizo and pumpkin pie with absolutely perfect pastry and accompanied by cheesy, creamy mash and veg, followed by an Imperial Purple Penny cake which she has invented in my honour. This mainly featured blackberries, blackcurrants and chocolate, but there was also a secret ingredient which we have all vowed solemnly never to divulge.

The cake in all its purple glory

Since the Ancient History sub-committee itself was not meeting this time, we also had some time free on Saturday afternoon to do a bit of sight-seeing. Friday evening was too full of wine and end-of-week decompression to make decisions about this, so I told [ profile] rosamicula that I would just phone her when I came out of the morning's meeting, and she could surprise me with whatever idea she fancied. She came up with the Sir John Soane Museum, which preserves the house of the man who designed the original Bank of England building, and was also a fervent collector of antiquarian curiosities. He treated the house as much as a museum as a residence during his life-time, and it is still more or less as he left it on his death in 1833, in accordance with the terms of his will. It's really amazing - every nook and cranny absolutely crammed full of a bizarre mix of real and reproduction antiquities, including a huge Egyptian alabaster sarcophagus, hundreds of pieces of Roman architectural and funerary sculpture, drawers full of insects (which reminded me, inevitably, of Ghost Light) and models of Classical temples. In fact, it reminded me a very great deal of [ profile] big_daz's house, which is much in the same vein only with fewer cremation urns and more commemorative plates.

The journey back wasn't so great, since it involved spending about 40 minutes stuck in Stevenage station while we waited for a broken-down train to be towed out of the way. But I made it back in the end, to curl up with Friday's episode of True Blood and some 'bear crunch' which [ profile] rosamicula had sent me away with - nuts, fruit and chocolate, and extremely delicious.

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strange_complex: (La Dolce Vita Trevi)
I'd never been on a hen-do before yesterday, and I don't think my introduction to the tradition was entirely a typical one either. But I enjoyed myself enormously marking [ profile] ms_siobhan's impending nuptials.

Gathering in York )

Afternoon tea )

Evening dinner )

Drunken but charming emo boy )

Sunday leisure )

ETA: Oh, by the way - did anyone who was in the restaurant find a purple scarf when you left? I'm pretty sure I left it on the floor by my chair. No worries if not - I think it only cost 99p in the first place. But it was deliciously soft and fluffy and a very lovely shade of purple... :-(

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strange_complex: (Cathica spike)
After a minor but enjoyable lie-in and a leisurely morning of breakfast and Frasier so old I hadn't seen it, I headed into town to enjoy duck breast and chocolate tart in honour of [ profile] kissmeforlonger's birthday, and then Weston's Perry in honour of [ profile] kantti and [ profile] deeply_spurious's presence in town.

Sitting in Mr. Foley's at about 6pm, I realised that the world at large now knew who the Eleventh Doctor would be, though I did not. So [ profile] deeply_spurious very kindly looked it up on his iPhone, and thus I learnt. Back home, I find that fandom has (inevitably) exploded, though there are some very sensible posts out there from Pickwick, Lefaym and Ed Zeppelin.

I thought I hadn't heard of him at first, but now that I've seen some larger pictures I realise that I do know him from Ruby in the Smoke and Shadow in the North. And that's about the right level of established public profile for me - he's not a total unknown, but he comes free from too many preconceptions (for me, anyway).

I would have liked it to be Paterson Joseph, but I would have been worried too about how he was going to be handled, for the reasons outlined in my post about Rosita. I'm slightly alarmed at the thought of a Doctor who, for the first time, will be younger than me, but I'm very ready to give him a chance. I was fairly lukewarm about the prospect of Tennant, after alll.

Above all, I hope they'll make use of his youth to lose something of the lonely God / "the one, the only, and the best!" aspect which Tennant has acquired, and go for a Doctor with a little more self-doubt - much as they did with Peter Davison in the wake of Baker (T), of course.

And that's about all there really is to say on the issue until his first story.

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strange_complex: (Leptis Magna theatre)
And so, welcome to the 'all about my holiday' entry. I'm going to keep it pretty minimal, actually, as I have a lot of work I need to get on with now. But, in simple list form:

This is what we did )

And these are the pictures )

I have, incidentally, submitted both of the purple Sshhh bag pictures shown above to the library's bag travel map, along with the signpost one from Belfast, since that one seems to have been the eventual victor in my poll.

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Christmas '07

Wednesday, 26 December 2007 15:50
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
As planned, Christmas Eve was spent going to see The Golden Compass in town, although I shall write about the film itself separately. I'm always surprised by how few people are out and about on Christmas Eve. I mean, I'm sure you can't really go out and party if you have kids, as there are Santa duties to be attended to. But why don't those in the pre-parental phase of life want to go out and toast in Christmas Eve? I know I used to quite often in my late teens and early twenties, but it was the same story then - a world half-deserted.

Anyway, Charlotte and I caught the bus in together, and then she went off to meet her friend Duncan while I saw my film, and we reconvened later when it was over. I met them in an 80s bar called Reflex, which I could see was probably a real swinging joint most nights of the year. As it was, though, they had about six customers, including us, for most of the evening. I wondered why they were even staying open - and by about 11:30 they'd obviously started wondering the same thing, as they shut up shop and kicked us out. So we decamped to Glamorous across the road, a gay bar which was in fact pretty full. As Duncan pointed out, a lot of gay people don't have families to go home to at Christmas in the same way as straight people do. They had possibly the world's worst drag cabaret act going on - decent enough outfits and everything, but the problem was that they weren't actually singing; just mouthing the words to other people's risqué songs, played way too loudly over the PA. And to a comedy routine about contraception, which involved two participants, but only had one person on stage, mouthing half of the words. So we grinned and bore it until midnight came round, but then made a quick exit.

Christmas day itself was much the usual sort of thing. All my presents went down well, and I got lots of nice things, including chocolate, Art Deco notecards, calendars (guinea-pigs for work, Erté for home), a vintage purse and belt, and a lovely pair of nested tables from Past Times which we're actually going to pick up from Leamington tomorrow. At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful brat, though, nothing from my Amazon wish-list. Which in fact meant no stories - no books, no DVDs, no worlds of magic and adventure. Well, actually Santa was kind enough to bring me a rather splendid David Tennant dream in the early hours of Christmas morning, and there was also the small matter of the Doctor Who special later that day (anticipation for which I think inspired the dream). But I could have done with Who season 3 or Order of the Phoenix on DVD, too.

The Who special had better have its own post, too. It had to be time-shifted, anyway, as we have our Christmas meal in the evening these days, so we were busy serving up and eating goose when it was on. Which was very tasty. And then after Who, it all seemed to be over for another year, and there wasn't even a film that was worth staying up huddled under a quilt for, so it was off to bed at a very conservative 23:45.

Today has seen our annual Boxing Day pilgrimage to the Waltons', for nibbles and drinks and chats. I swear little Holly is twice the size she was last year now, and from certain angles looking at her is like looking 27 years back into the past, and seeing my childhood playmate - pictured here, f'rinstance - now her mother.

strange_complex: (Cathica spike)
Ohhhh, yes! Yes, sir, thank-you-very-much-indeed.

Know the moment I liked best? It was just a small thing. When Stoker looked out of the hospital window at the moonscape, and the real Earth, suspended in the sky, was reflected in the window above and to the left of him, while a small globe was standing on the window-sill below and to the right, with his unbelieving face staring outwards in between. Those are the moments which tell you you're watching a well-crafted, well-thought-out piece of television, and not some half-assed piece of rubbish.

Edit: This moment, to be precise )

Thanks, YouTube.

I look forward immensely to the rest of the series. And if I'm not careful, I could well find myself nursing a serious Ten crush by the end of it...

I was glad to have the pleasure of the company of [ profile] nigelmouse and [ profile] big_daz for Who - I always feel a new series should be started with fellow enthusiasts. We also enjoyed an episode of Fry & Laurie, Gosford Park (after Nigel had headed subculture-wards for bleepy music), and a quite impressive quantity of beer and bikkies. A fine evening all round.

strange_complex: (Purple and black phone)
Mmm! Have just had a delicious breakfast delivered to my room on a big tray. I have never done this before, but I can now recommend it!

strange_complex: (Chrestomanci slacking in style)
Oh dear. I seem to have spent far too much time over the last few days doing nice things or falling asleep on sofas (also a Nice Thing) to write on live journal. Let's see now:

Christmas presents: an excellent haul, aided in no small measure by the gentle introduction of parents to Amazon wish-list. I got:
  • DVDs - Life of Brian, a particularly gripping performance of Handel's Giulio Cesare.
  • Books - Architectural Guide to Leeds, Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, enormous Collins English Dictionary (now all language is mine! Ha-ha-ha!), Andrew Lintott's Imperium Romanum (handy for teaching), C. Steven Larue's Handel and His Singers and The Quest for the Wicker Man.
  • Chocolate - enormous raspberry truffle, box of dark chocolates.
  • Tokens - £10 book token from paternal aunt (today converted into Plutarch, The Age of Alexander) and £15 Waterstone's token from maternal uncle (today converted into Ancient Cities by Charles Gates).
  • Other - notebook with pictures from the House of the Vettii on it, facsimile Roman oil-lamp which by an amazing coincidence happens to have the exact goddess I am going to the Dark Masquerade Ball as on it (name withheld for the present to preserve a suitable sense of Mystery), sandalwood incense sticks, ticket for ice-skating on the outdoor rink currently operating in Birmingham town centre, incredibly cute K-9 key-ring, Guinea-pig calendar, L'Oreal lipstick.
Christmas dinner: we did goose, which very nearly didn't fit into the oven, but eventually was squeezed in diagonally. It was really nice, and I think the first time I've ever had goose at all. But I prefer the taste of duck. Just a pity that one duck doesn't quite provide enough for four people.

Boxing day: went over to the Waltons', as we usually do. Chatted, caught up, and marvelled at the cuteness of little Holly. Came home and watched lots of TV. On which note:

Doctor Who: I gather a lot of people have been all snide and grumpy about this episode online. But I really enjoyed it, so I don't care what the cynics say. I was impressed that Catherine Tate managed to make her character so sympathetic (especially given that I usually can't stand her), and the Empress of Racnoss reminded me a lot of Echidna, the Mother of all Monsters from Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, both in appearance and characterisation. (The real character looked a lot more like the Empress than that action figure, but I can't seem to find a picture of her). Looking forward to the next series.

The Hogfather: I did enjoy this, especially each time I got the same thrill I remember getting from Rivendell in Lord of the Rings of 'recognising' a place I'd only seen before in my imagination. And seeing Pterry himself in the toyshop at the end was particularly groovy! But somehow it wasn't quite what I'd hoped. I think the problem is that Pterry doesn't actually write stories as such, but rather narrative explorations of abstract concepts. And so the storyline wobbled, flailed and dragged, failing to impart the significance written deep into the book, and yet I suspect also confusing those who hadn't read it. Oh well - I appreciated the fact that it was made at all, though.

Today: La Sistrella and I used our ice-rink tickets to swish and glide around in central Birmingham, enjoying watching people's rosy laughing faces, misty breath and children falling over as we did so. Then we went shopping to spend our tokens, and returned home to eat party left-overs and indulge in more nodding off on the sofa. A most satisfactory way to spend the day, except that my groin muscles are killing me now. Apparently I only ever use them when ice-skating.

And that would appear to bring me back up to date.

Deck the halls

Saturday, 23 December 2006 18:11
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Tonight is the final night of the Saturnalia, the Solstice has been accomplished successfully, and tomorrow is Christmas Eve. What could be better?

I'm up in Brum at my parents' house, and, as in some previous years, we are holding a Christmas party tonight. We've spent the day preparing, and now we've entered that lull where it's not yet worth getting dressed up and attending to the last-minute tasks like taking things out of the fridge and putting them on the table, but we've pretty much finished all the medium-term preparation. We have ham, pâté, salmon, cheeses, salads, olives, peppers, quiches, pizza, ciabatta, mulled wine, chocolate brandy cake, fruit salad and about a dozen other delicious things I can't remember now. Seasonal music and musicians are on standby (I shall mainly be playing the recorder this year), silly crackers are waiting to be pulled, the tree sparkles beautifully in the corner, and I have a lovely new dress hanging in the wardrobe. It should be a good 'un.

Going out into the garden this morning, I found that the mild weather we've had this autumn / early winter has meant a real profusion of interesting leaves, berries and even flowers which I could incorporate into the display of winter greenery that I normally put together to go on the mantlepiece above our fireplace. And, at long last, my Dad and I together also came up with a solution to the logistical problem I usually have when putting the display together - that the mantlepiece is rather narrow, the greenery gets quite heavy once you've got a few holly branches and bits of variegated bushes in there, and a blob of blu-tack just isn't adequate to hold it all together. Instead, this year, I picked out a suitable log from the wood-pile, and he split it in two and then drilled some holes in it for me, so that it could sit on the mantlepiece and have twigs poked into it. It works very well - and is making me wish I'd brought my digital camera up here to photograph it. Oh well - I'm sure it will be appreciated by the party-guests tonight, and maybe I'll be able to borrow the parental camera for blogging purposes? Yes - I'll go and enquire about that right now, I think!

Things unblogged

Friday, 19 May 2006 11:33
strange_complex: (Darth blogging)
Gosh. I would appear to have some free time. Nominally, I'm at Warwick doing essay returns. But since I only have 11 people to see today, as opposed to the fearsome 35 I got through yesterday, there are a lot of gaps in the day when I can do other things. And I've actually run out of minor administrative tasks to perform, so that means I can write on LJ - yay!

What I'm going to do here is give quick accounts of some of the things I would have blogged over the last couple of months, if I'd had the time to do so. They probably won't get the same level of detail as they'd have had if I'd written them up at the time. But at least this way they won't be completely forgotten.

18th March - celebratory meal at Gee's )

30th March - Robin Blaze at the Wigmore Hall )

1st April - 'Springtime Baroque' concert at the Sheldonian )

24th April - QI recording )

8th May - Rik Mayall in 'The New Statesman' )

Well, that was a great relief! I feel a lot less weighed down by a back-log now, and more able to get on with posting about things day to day. There are still some Big Posts I need to make about things like my new job, and my book and so on. But this has definitely been a good start.
strange_complex: (Penny Farthing)
Nothing spectacular - just one of those days that you feel good about at the end of it. So far, it has gone like this:

Morning - made good progress with chapter four. Finished the process, started yesterday, of collapsing the first 3000 words of it into 2000 better words. If things continue at this rate, of both speed and reduction, I've a good chance of finishing according to my current schedule (i.e. by April 18th).

Lunch - ate microwaved remains of last night's Taste the Difference goat's cheese and red pepper pizza. Yummy.

2pm - met [ profile] stompyboots for coffee. Chatted about Leeds (which for some reason I kept calling 'Liverpool'), book, laptops and her current crush. It felt like a high-quality, well-deserved break after a productive morning - rah!

3pm - headed for the library. Continued to be happily productive. Tracked down useful and interesting references easily and efficiently. Left feeling I'd made significant progress.

5pm - bought tasty things at Sainsbury's and took them home.

And now, [ profile] davesangel will be arriving shortly to stay over for the night! I haven't seen her since December, and am really looking forward to spend the evening eating some of the tasty food I bought earlier and chatting together.

So, in short - hooray!
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Uh-oh. We were going to do our Christmas duck with an orange and port sauce. But when you find yourself uttering sentences like, "Well, are we still going to glaze it with marmalade, or do that with apricot jam as well?", you know insufficient forward planning has been engaged in. Never mind. I'm sure apricot jam will be just as good.

The stockings this morning were well-received, and giving them certainly generated a pleasantly warm glow for this year's Santas. And my haul of tree presents this year was fantastic, too! More about those later, when I've had a chance to play with them properly. For now, a poll on Christmas-or-similar traditions in your household:

[Poll #640025]
strange_complex: (Default)
I shall have to resort to numbered paragraphs.

1. I spent the weekend in a cottage near Ledbury, enjoying the 10th Annual Winsley Road Posse Christmas Meal. The choice of Ledbury was pretty random, really, based on reasonably equal travelling distances for all of us, and a nice-looking cottage within taxiable range of a railway station. But it was a good choice. The cottage exceeded all our expectations, while the lady we were letting it from had even left us a real live Xmas tree, a plate of mince pies and a lovely fire smouldering in the grate when I arrived. It was fabulous to catch up with everyone again, and enjoy the cottage, the grounds and the crisp but sunny weather together. We were all a bit bemused to find ourselves smoothly and professionally cooking a fabulous meal, eating it on an antique oak dining table and passing round port afterwards: all something of a contrast with meal number 1. Anyone would think we were grown-ups now, or something! But it was great, and so great in fact that we unanimously decided the book the cottage up again for the equivalent weekend next year before we left.

2. Last night was another jovial Christmas gathering, this time with the [ profile] oxgoths in the Chequers. Presents aplenty were distributed amongst the assembled company, chocolates munched and silly hats worn. We even attempted to play Christmas carols in chorus, with Spiky Neil conducting us and each person blowing on a differently-pitched whistle. Just one of those evenings that makes you feel really glad to have the friends you have.

3. And, finally, isn't Radio 3's Christmas Bachathon a stroke of genius? I don't tend to listen to Radio 3 all that much, but now that it's offering 100% Guaranteed Bach every time I switch it on, things have become quite different. I even threw over the Today programme this morning, setting my alarm to wake me up with one of his cantatas instead. Chatting to friends, I think a lot of people are doing the same sort of thing, and I don't doubt it's doing their audience figures a world of favours. Now, how about a Handel New Year, eh?

4. Ah, it's time for Futurama! Bye. :)
strange_complex: (Latin admirable sentiment)
Some random recent things:

1. Yesterday, a man came round and raked all the leaves off my lawn! I'd been meaning to do it myself, but I'm glad I didn't now. He's the gardener for the communal parts of our flats, and has no obligation to do anything with my patch at all. But I ain't going to be the one who goes out and explains to him where the communal parts end and my own garden begins.

2. Yesterday evening was Cat WINOLJ's birthday, and what a lovely time we had. Luscious cocktails in Raoul's, followed by dinner in a place called Big Bang. Not, as Hitch-Hikers fans might assume, a burger bar, but a place which specialised in sausages and mash. I had two deliciously rich venison sausages on a garlic and rosemary mash and swimming in a gorgeous red wine 'jus'1, followed by Jam Roly-Poly - yay! Definitely a good choice of venue, to which I hope to return in future to explore some of their other options.

3. Book stuff seems to be happening at the moment. I've got lots of other bitty tasks to do, so I'm setting a pattern of working solidly on the book in the morning, and sorting out other stuff in the afternoon, with a return to the book later on if I'm not going out in the evening. Progress is being made this way on all fronts, and it feels good. It is also amazing how much time there turns out to be in a week when you're not spending 10 hours of it commuting.

4. I've now posted my letter of complaint to the manager at Dukes Hotel. Sorry it took a few days, chaps - my printer is being rubbish again, so I had to get a friend-of-a-friend to do it. But it's on its way.

5. I'm starting to feel reasonably Christmassy, but I'm not cracking out the Xmas music until I do my cards - probably tonight and / or tomorrow. Big thanks to those people who have sent cards to me already!

6. That's probably enough for now.
1. Since when was a perfectly good word like 'sauce' universally ousted by the word 'jus'? That's what I want to know.

Farmers' market

Thursday, 6 October 2005 14:06
strange_complex: (Default)
I spent lunch-time wandering around the farmers' market in Gloucester Green with [ profile] dyddgu. We were beset by delicious smells on all sides, and satisfied our appetites by munching heartily on roast-pork-and-stuffing (or crackling) rolls. I bought:
  • Two venison burgers
  • Goats cheese with coriander and chive.
  • Honey and mustard dressing
  • Balsamic vinegar dressing
  • Honey and ginger marinade
(The lady on the dressings and marinades stall was very friendly, and expert at tempting me into trying more and more of her delicious concoctions).

After [ profile] dyddgu had dashed off to get back to her job in the History Faculty library, I wandered around a little more, taking in the antiques / craft part of the market, and then, all of a sudden on a 'Retro Design' stall, saw the telephone that I have been waiting for all my life. For years, you see, I've wanted a plain black dial phone, just like my parents had until only about 10 years ago. They're the ones everyone had in the 60s and 70s, which looked like this, and I now know are technically referred to as the '700 series'. Until recently, though, I haven't been able to justify the expense for something which is really just a fashion statement. So it had remained a pipe dream, and I'd got along perfectly happily with my £9.99 silver touch-tone phone.

The phone I saw today, though, brought my long-thwarted desire flooding back ten-fold. This phone wasn't just the design I liked - it was also sitting there in two-tone bright purple and black! I hadn't even known such phones existed. Which is lucky, because I'm not sure I could have survived this long without owning one. However, it was £65, and besides not having that kind of cash on me, it also occurred to me on the basis of previous experience of the Gloucester Green antiques market that I might well be able to get it cheaper on Ebay. I came home, did a quick search, and guess what? I could. And the thoughtful sellers have even offered a complete explanation of how it is that such phones ever came to be.

Much happiness now ensues. And I return to preparing tomorrow's lectures.

60 hours

Wednesday, 31 August 2005 09:44
strange_complex: (Default)
Pretty much all the companies who really need to know I'm moving now do, although I still haven't managed to get through to an actual human being at Nationwide. My office is packed up; the house is starting to happen today. Got up bright and early this morning to go to Tesco's and pick up some extra boxes, and since then it's been coffee and getting down to it.

Last night I went out for dinner with [ profile] davesangel at the Apartment, a funky little bar-restaurant in town where they do a damn fine two-course meal for two plus a bottle of wine for £28 all told. They have large plate-glass windows overlooking the splendid neo-classical City Hall, and we were lucky enough to get placed at a table which must have had one of the best views in the venue. It's almost like the waiter knew I was going. We gossiped, giggled and discussed HP fanfic, while the sun faded from the sky and the lights came up in the square below. Afterwards, I walked home rather than get the bus, for the sake of some final quality time alone in the dark with Belfast.

It seems that almost everything I do at the moment is unpleasantly overshadowed by the word 'Last'. There was my Last Lecture back in June, my Last Cornucopia almost a month ago, my Last Supervision on Friday, giving back my Last Library Book and having a Last Hot Chocolate in Café Conor yesterday, my Last Time in the city centre last night, several people I know I've already said my Last Goodbyes to, and a whole slough more to add to that by the end of the evening - for tonight is the Last Sci-Fi Meeting.

I am going to get tearful by the end of this week: I can feel it coming.

Friends here in Belfast are plotting to sabotage the ferry which will take me away on Friday night so I can't go, or offering to murder my choice of the QUB Ancient History staff so I can take their jobs and stay on. Then again, on the other side of the equation I'm starting to get texts, LJ comments and emails from people in England checking when I'm coming back, and telling me how excited they are about it and what we'll do when I've returned. I already have the St. Giles' fair to look forward to next Tuesday, and B-Movie the following weekend.

Keep it up, English people - it means more to me than I can say right now.

Café Milano

Monday, 29 August 2005 22:34
strange_complex: (Roast duck)
Have just come back from dinner with my two Masters' students and three Ancient History colleagues at Café Milano. We were all very impressed by the décor: not only Domus Aurea-style trickling fountains in the background, but a tessera-for-tessera copy of the Alexandery bit of the Alexander mosaic on the floor. You couldn't get much more appropriate for a bunch of Ancient Historians, really.

The food wasn't quite up to the same standard - the duck I had was a bit rubbery, and the meringues which formed part of my dessert had a somewhat silicone texture. But no matter - it's the people that count on these occasions, and they were fine indeed. I shall miss them. Yes, all of them.



strange_complex: (Default)

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