EDitorial ± 21-Jun-2019

Woodbridge Lunches: New Street Market

Once again doing the well-worn Woodbridge parking circuit up Church Street and into Seckford Street, right on to Market Hill (hello to the ground zero Wild Strawberry) and right again on to Theatre Street before heading down New Street. Wot no spot so it's a paid-for space opposite Savers.

Andy suggests a cheeky stroll behind the library to admire some rather expensive real estate then up the hill forwards to alight at the whitewashed archway leading to New Street Market. There's a plethora of plants plus a cornucopia of candles not to mention a smorgasbord of savon de marseilles. Billed as "a collective of local creatives", it's a slice of Shoreditch in Eno's old manor.

To the rear of the precious things we find the deli itself with refrigerated cheeses, freshly baked bread and other goodies. Let me quote you the first half-dozen lunch items in full:

  • sourdough reuben sandiwch with NSM salt beef, pineapple sauerkraut & homemade dill pickle
  • margerita pizzetta or pancetta & bocconcini with rocket salad & lemon dressing
  • paper dosa with sabhar & coconut chutney & red onion & turmeric salad
  • bombay potato with onion salad, coriander chutney
  • prawn chilli fry in a brioche bun -- goan street food
  • New Street Market cheese sandwich -- hot gooey runny loveliness with fennel & red cabbage salad

Where to start? Well, with the Rosa Farine pastries, as it happens, since they're flying off the counter and need to be bagged now for later. That done, let's select from the finery on offer and grab a Sole Rosso Bio bottle of Italian cola. Nice, and nicer still to be seated among the Woodbridge School mums and partners, all of whom have excellent hair. Spotted whats-his-face from the Riverside having a mooch around to evaluate the competition. Longest day of the year seemed even longer waiting for our food but, as per our visit to The Green Room, slow food is good food. My bombay potato was top-notch and remarkably generous, ditto Andy's strongly flavoured cheese sarnie. To be reminded of the nearby Cooks Shed is vg indeed.

Really didn't need any sweet things but we'd already bought 'em, and delightful they were too. A vanilla chiffon with berries and a chunky Eccles cake to make Andy think of home, both shared with a decent espresso. Another one of those times when we'd both much rather hang around chatting instead of (at least one of us) returning to work. What with Nourish and The Green Room, and now NSM, that's three Bridget-worthy eateries on the trot.

If it was a car -- Tesla Model X.
If they were passing by -- James Dean Bradfield.

EDitorial ± 15-Jun-2019

Ipswich Lunches: The Green Room

Friday came and went with a sad and single and perfectly pleasant one man trip to the M&S caff. Late afternoon text arrived, though: I've got business in the 'Swich on Saturday, said Andy. Fancy meeting up? Interrogated my cerebrum and a proposed destination materialised. Yep, said Andy, see you there. By the way, I'm running a bit late. As per, as per.

Opened in April 2019, The Green Room occupies the old Hubbard's antiques premises on St Margaret's Green. Owner Su-Ling has inventively used the opening to the right for several open-air tables meaning you can be half-in, half-out. We ordered our jambon-beurre -- with remoulade and cornichons, natch -- and houmous du jour ("that'll take a while") and grabbed some external seats. Tres continental, sitting au soleil and getting beaucoup d'inquisitive looks from passing motorists. Le singe est dans l'arbre, vraiment.

Oddly enough, as we were soaking up the UV, the Google StreetView car scuttled past. I unashamedly leapt from my chair to further secure immortality in the June 2019 update and watched as it turned right at the lights before doubling back along Soane Street to come past again. Look out for the unassuming chap in the blue cycle top, folks.

My paprika-ed houmous was worthy of the wait accompanied by a mighty fine baguette. All the way from La France, evidemment, and shipped over here by road to avoid the nasty air miles. Nonsuch Shrub cold drink, blackcurrant and juniper, "with apple cyder vinegar", made for a curious match. Other patrons included a nuclear family who'd just bought a house up the road and a local character on a mobility scooter c/w shaggy dog. Try the coffee! he shouted to some passers-by.

Far from a simple caff, TGR is also an atelier, offering gallery space for aspiring artists and a space for community events. Currently on show was work by Madeleine Tapp. I was admiring her large abstracts before it was pointed out to me that she was sitting in the cafe itself. You don't get that at the Musee d'Orsay. Wonderful advantage of a Saturday outing is not having to return to the office. That somehow made it even better to sip a grand creme and share a sumptuous brownie and a jewel slice, being a sweet slab of candied fruit on a caramel bar. The Green Room? Merveilleux!

If it was a car -- Citroen DS 19 Cabriolet.
If they were passing by -- Vicki Michelle.

EDitorial ± 10-Jun-2019

Pulse Festival 2019

Love the culture, me. The tunes, the films, the pictures. Less so, the theatre. Much less so. Prob'ly why I've mostly shied away from Ipswich's very own Pulse, the "actively curated festival" that's been run by the New Wolsey for a few years. Ten days of small shows with big ideas. My line, that one.

This year, though, flicking through the brochure, I spotted a couple of things I fancied. Hadn't occurred to me before that Pulse is more or less a mini Edinburgh Fringe but 400 miles closer. Then went to book 'em online and found myself with an offer I couldn't refuse. Tenner each, or five for a fiver each. They had me.

(Mon 3 Jun @ 6:30pm) Lights! Planet! People! at New Wolsey Theatre
Co-writer with John Osborne of Sky One's delightful After Hours, Molly Naylor gives us a female cosmologist -- "I'm a scientist" -- flitting between a lecture, a therapy session and unanswered mobile calls. Karen Hill, terrific, keeps asking the audience for questions. I nearly put my hand up. Exoplanets and existentialism.
— line: "Leaflets and that."

(Tue 4 Jun @ 8pm) My Kind Of Michael at New Wolsey Studio
Promising start guessing the masterfully picked-out Bontempi TV theme tunes: that was Big Break? Nick Cassenbaum's love letter to persona non grata Michael Barrymore with us in the crowd acting as Strike It Lucky contestants. Should MB accept that free JD & Sprite? Much pathos. It's the celebri-tree!
— line: "It was my destiny to be that prat."

(Wed 5 Jun @ 8pm) A Hundred Different Words For Love at New Wolsey Studio
Previous show running late caused a delay enabling us in the audience to hear the full warm-up playlist culminating in a mass singalong of Erasure's A Little Respect. That was joyous, as was James Rowland's story. Show punctuated by looped keyboard riffs over which JR, the offspring of Tim Key and Bill Bailey, shouted his lines. Good old Giles. Nailed that landing with the final song, too.
— line: "Viennetta? You should have said."

(Fri 7 Jun @ 8pm) You're In A Bad Way at High Street Exhibition Gallery
Co-writer with Molly Naylor of Sky One's delightful After Hours, John Osborne is one of the few performers that I've seen previously at Pulse. That was 2016's Hefner-based The Fidelity Wars. Me and G. had already seen a JO double bill (John Peel's Shed and Circled In The Radio Times) at Diss back in February. The shambolic lad can do no wrong and tells a tale stretching from his final Glastonbury to a Lincolnshire care home. Bring on St Etienne, The Musical.
— line: "I was already wearing tomorrow's socks."

(Sat 8 Jun @ noon) This Is All For You at High Street Exhibition Gallery
Bonus performance by People You May Know. According to The Guardian's Guide, "Joss Oliver and Fred Double's preview of their latest play." Bum directions meant I was ten minutes late but I still caught 45 minutes of Jimmy's wordy would-be angry young man with FD on drums. Plenty of Facebook fishwife food for thought in a lunchtime show. The boys did good.
— line: "Boil an egg?"

(Sat 8 Jun @ 8:45pm) Kieran Hodgson '75 at New Wolsey Studio
Pre-show chat with fellow attendee about the pre-show '70s visuals of Heath, Thatcher, Powell and Jenkins. Then touch-of-Tennant Kieran appeared to whip us through a brief history of Europe in relation to the GB. Slick, skilled and spot-on impersonations of long-gone politicos. How did he synchronise that Bach air piano playing? Impressive.
— line: "Your fish quotas didn't bother me anyway."

...and still missed Max and Ivan, Byron Vincent and 1927.

EDitorial ± 7-Jun-2019

Light Lunches: Nourish, Newbourne

Previous Friday on the last day of May, buddies having balked, I'd undertaken a solo cycle spin past the static Holeshot and right on to the Ipswich Road before Brightwell Barns. Further on, skating the dystopian Last Transmissions and wot-no-cafe Katie's Garden, I'd eventually located Nourish, apparently opened in March 2019. To borrow the name of a BSE establishment, it was really rather good. And, note, both dog and pony friendly.

Seven days later finds Tifosi Andy and Raleigh Ed saddling off from overcast Adastral and into the Brightwell breeze. Ten minutes later, pointing to the village pub, Andy remarked that it used to be the traditional place to celebrate the arrival of a child. The Fox? I queried. Newbourne, he clarified.

Unlike a week ago, there's ample seating outside due to that there weather. Specials today include pea, broccoli and mint soup, pitta pockets and a grilled avocado & halloumi open sandwich. However, club sandwich (chicken and bacon) for the retiree -- I need the protein, he claims -- and its veggie equivalent for me. Both come with dressed salad and vanish nicely in the chilly open barn seating area. Unusually good side drinks are a Nonsuch cherry & mint and an LA Brewery ginger made, as you'll have guessed, in Suffolk.

Doesn't take long before we're the only ones left exposed to the elements. Ignoring the supplied blankets, we head to the cosy interior which is busy busy busy. I spy sofas, high chairs of both sorts, a large table, an urn of cucumber water, art for sale, et cetera. Last time I'd had a magnificent "morning bun", a cross between a croissant and doughnut. Yep, the cronut has finally hit East Anglia. Lady told me they came from Worcester's of Bury St Edmunds. Googling around, that turned out to be Wooster's of Bardwell, esteemed local bakers. Slummed it this time with a single scone cream tea, yum, and a very decent espresso. Rev up your 4x4 and get nourished at Nourish.

If it was a car -- Dacia Duster.
If they were passing by -- John Quentin.

EDitorial ± 24-May-2019

Woodbridge Lunches: Drift

That old Earth of ours has seen a dozen orbital periods (nine common years, three leap years) since the boy Andy proposed this whole light lunch shebang in 2007. We kicked off in ye olde Woodbridge, being ten minutes down the road from where we all worked, and quickly knocked off ten eateries in the first three months including Pickwicks (now the brilliant if hard to find Cooks Shed), Frangipani (now the Cumberland Fish Bar) and the Georgian Coffee House. Well, the Georgian era is over.

I'd stumbled across colourfully branded Drift a week earlier while coming out of the booky Emporium and had a rather good rocky road, hence today's meet-up. I'm first, place my order inside -- there's the conservatory -- and squeeze into an outside corner table. Sipping my cucumber and mint when Andy appears fresh from Aldeburgh. He's not sat down long when my grub appears, an offering from their "ultimate lunch" menu:

sausage pattie + smashed avocado + free-ranged fried egg + wild rocket served in our unique black brioche bun

Marmite in appearance -- I decide to love it -- due to that black-as-your-hat bun. But oh man, that combination of meat & egg & greens all within a dark crunch. Most original thing I've had to eat in a while, an opinion I happily share with the couple at the next table. Who, it transpires, are pleased to hear this being the happy owners of this establishment. They're less delighted to hear that Andy's still waiting for his savoury, the house Scotch egg, after ten minutes. Bad timing for the staff who didn't write it down. Oops.

Which is how we both received exemplary service for the rest of our time sat there in the shade, taking receipt of unending apologies backed up by free coffee and cake. Ain't no fun being on the other side of the counter. Who'd give you complimentary goodies if they mucked up your order? Drift would.

If it was a car -- Nissan 240SX.
If they were passing by -- Fran Healy.

EDitorial ± 14-May-2019

Light Lunches: Lighthouse Diner, Lowestoft

Week or so beforehand, I'd looked ahead, realised I was due a day's time off in the loo, and booked it off. Very deliberately didn't mention this fact to G. knowing that she'd be highly unlikely to secure that day off with so little notice. So it was that I awoke on 14-May-2019, to use my preferred date format, and rode out on my bright yellow bike for a day out in the sun. Happy 53rd birthday, me!

Up to station code IPS, lugged bike up and over the bridge and straight on to the 09:17. Through Woodbridge, Melton, "Wickham Market" (actually Campsea Ashe) and Saxmundham, then I'm off at Darsham on the stroke of 10am. Why? 'Cos the Darsham Hamper is dead and, after a hairy mile bike ride up the A12, I'm having birthday breakfast at its replacement, the Two Magpies Bakery. Excellent coffee and the best almond croissant I've ever had.

Hour later I've reboarded Greater Anglia's finest to pass through Halesworth, request stop Brampton and Beccles. Decided somewhere along the line to keep fit and get off one stop earlier, thus disembarked at Oulton Broad South. Brief tour of Nicholas Everitt park, bought a used paperback at the library, then cycled via Pakefield and over Lowestoft's mighty bascule bridge to reach unlovely Whapload Road (tyres, used cars, repeat). Why again? 'Cos it's home to the highly rated Lighthouse Diner, "the most easterly diner in the UK", a surely unique claim.

Slightly concerned that it's now 1:45pm and they're due to shut at 2pm but that's all fine. Order at the hatch -- double egg, double bacon, chips and beans -- and took my numbered slip. Bunch of customers inside ignoring the waiting-room style telly ("and now here on BBC1, Doctors"). My number's up, in a good way, so gave a few squirts of genuine HP and took my large plate of carbo goodies to the sun-drenched seating area outside. With a health giving bottle of mango iced tea to wash it down, all good, all very good indeed. No wonder they've nabbed a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence. And once you're sufficiently stuffed, work off some of those surplus calories with a stroll along the sea wall check out the Euroscope at Ness Point. There, you're truly east of Ipswich.

If it was a car -- used Kia Picanto from M&R Car Sales.
If they were passing by -- Laurie Sivell.

EDitorial ± 3-May-2019

Felixstowe Light Lunches: The Mad House

Fairly indifferent Friday, fahrenheit-wise, before the old SE beeped to inform me of an incoming stanza of free verse from Andy:

I'm parked outside your building no rush just call me when you're leaving I'm in the blue panda

Now he may have been up all night out of his head in his Boyton garret hoping that the man from Porlock didn't call, or he might just have dashed that off in the car. Note how he intially conforms to the haiku syllabic structure and then subverts it. Either way, that's top work, and I write as a published poet, ahem-hem.

Into the Fiat Lux and here's a Batey-esque couple of Cassys, both Mr and Mrs. More the merrier as we pootle down to the 'Stowe. Ever so slightly past the library to be dropped off outside Unit 4. American Diner? Nope. Steak 'n' Grill? Nope. Welcome to The Mad House, an Alice in Wonderland themed eatery opened by Amber and Hannah in March 2019. Nearly all tables occupied, pleasingly, apart from a four-person sized space on the couch in the corner. And here's Kev wearing a Cheshire Cat smile on his day off.

Extensive menu is an exercise in combination theory with so many possible permutations of outers and inners. Can't get chilli in a baguette, alas. Mid-sized all day breakfast for me, ta very much. Smiling young lady checks if I'd like that "with meat". Oh, yes. See, they offer all manner of vegetarian and vegan and gluten-free options here, which is no bad thing. Wall behind our sofa has whatever the collective noun is for many clocks. You could entertain the kids all day simply playing I-Spy in here.

Food takes a fair while -- the price of being freshly made and with the shop pretty much full -- but is vg when it comes. Mrs Cassy's veg bacon strip is everything it promised to be. Only me working today and my time's up, so have to make do with an excellent and highly calorific Bournville dream shake. And yes, I'll have the cream on top. You don't have to be mad to go there but it helps.

If it was a car -- Ford Falcon XB GT.
If they were passing by -- Mia Wasikowska.