EDitorial ± 30-Jul-2008
Felixstowe Light Lunches: Ruby's Kitchen
Goodwood doesn't have a monopoly on gorgeousness this July day. That mass of incandescent gas is blazing away and, after a rest week, we're pursuing a fiery Felixstowe TV tip from d'Artagnan, aka Kev: there's another new venue in town. Grenvyle grabs a sweet parking spot on Wolsey Gardens, leaving us with no more than a hop and a skip to number 1, Bent Hill. That is one quality address.
You may have known this location as Nuts & Honey. Been there for yonks, though they've had the chairs permanently up on the tables for as long as we've been frequenting the F-word. Then, vamoosh, two weeks ago it's reborn as Ruby's Kitchen. Thank goodness the bag shop is still next door. Meanwhile, no more than a glimpse of the posh paint job before we're ushered inside:
- through room 1, cakes and jams and sofas,
- through room 2, tables and glass and specials,
- and out on to the vitamin D-enriched balcony
Each of the three tables has a mighty parasol: yes, uni-umbrella Tea Pot, that is aimed at you. Lovely out, as Eric used to observe to Ernie, though sea-view limited by the four foot fence. Menu is way too enticing and includes the delightful heading "Nibbly Bits To Share". Blah seasonal blah local blah free-range blah, naturally. Athos, Porthos and Aramas make up their collective minds, leaving d'Arty to practice some county level procastination.
My daily special, a salad nicoise with the odd olive and balsamic, is super. All our lunches very much look and taste the part. No shortage of attentive service, too. After some personal soul-searching, the luscious lemon cake wins dessert wars, and dang it, bring me a double espresso. Says the waitress to me afterwards: Are you buzzin'? Zing!
Goodbye, Ruby's Kitchen, still I'm gonna miss you ... until the next visit.
EDitorial ± 21-Jul-2008
In Search Of King Stupid
Promises made to kids: like a pinata, they're made to be broken. Planning a full day's worth of arty shows at the nearby Latitude festival, I'd spotted that Saturday, 11am, saw The Early Edition with Marcus Brigstocke. That, I said to the children, is none other than King Stupid.
Not often I impress them. OK, never. But that did. Wow, they mouthed. Dad, get his autograph, will you? Thinks: literary tent before noon? Prob'ly be half-full. Er, 'course I will, no problem.
Southwold-ish, festival site, 11:45am, and the crowd are six-deep outside the lit' big top. Sunny outside, can't even see inside. From the loudspeakers I can hear Phill Jupitus, Donna McPhail et cetera. And Mr MB. By this time I'm standing round the side near the "signing" area, assuming that The Performers will be heading there straight after the show. Which they duly don't.
Nobody comes out from the restricted area round the back though various (presumably) family and friends go in. In the end, I ask a hanger-on, who's heading in, to ask MB if he'll come over. And finally, he does.
[me, timidly] Nice to meet you, Mr Brigstocke. My kids made me swear to not come back today without your signature.
[MB, graciously] Ah, King Stupid!
Job done, it's off to see:
- show: How George Formby Saved My Life: ukuleles galore; patchy
- poet: Simon Armitage: v. good, featuring a finale of Luddington Foot
- music: Bishi, fab Culture Show-featured Bengali DJ and musician
- film: The Pearce Sisters, another quality Aardman short
- Q&A: Patrick Marber, him off The Day Today, with Closer/Love You More clips
- music: Acid Brass! -- The Fairey Band play Acid House songs; room went mad when that final KLF tune started
- film: unsettling Rubberheart short, star Rebecca Hall in attendance
- music: Malcolm Middleton being miserable in the wood stage
- music: the mighty Elbow on the Obelisk stage, Guy giving it some
- music: the awesome Sigur Ros providing a near religious experience as the sun set
... and still managed to miss Jeremy Hardy, Iain Banks, Bill Bailey, and so on. Tip for next year: before leaving the car, place a traffic cone on the roof. Might sav 45 minutes of traipsing around in the dark gone midnight trying to find a black car.
EDitorial ± 18-Jul-2008
Light Lunches: National Trust, Sutton Hoo
Isn't often that we've had to whip out our membership cards to gain (free) entry into a place of refreshment. Equally, we've not visited a sizeable number of Anglo-Saxon burial sites on our tearoom travels. Best behaviour today, chaps, for this is the National Trust at Sutton Hoo. You can't park that ship 'ere!
Past the visitor centre and into the lovely light & space of the high-ceilinged restaurant, c/w outdoor terrace. Queueing up, I notice the kids' menu (tick) which includes:
Jacket potato longboat, in a sea of baked beans, topped with grated cheese, flying a Sutton Hoo flag -- £3.50
If that spud doesn't impart the true significance of this site to your average 10-year-old, my name isn't King Raedwald. Meantime, mine's the Suffolk Rarebit with a Curiosity Cola: hello again, Mr Fentiman. One of the serving ladies is possibly experiencing her first day on the job: she's flummoxed by Grenvyle's order for a pot of tea and perplexed by Andy's request to find out the soup of the day. Let's hope she's a volunteer.
Not long before the cheese on toast arrives: plenty tasty, though not enough Suffolk chutney -- described as a "generous helping", it ain't no mound. Side salad is as naked as the day it was born, unlike the Dancing Goat. Reasonably priced too, which I didn't think I'd be writing this week. Dessert beckons, as ever: unremarkable coffee and cake slice: maybe should have stuck with the traffic light jelly.
EDitorial ± 9-Jul-2008
Light Lunches: The Dancing Goat, Framlingham
Here's something Quite Interesting: according to my increasingly outdated 7th edition of Chambers, the word "serendipity" derives from Serendip, a former name for Sri Lanka. They may well serve a cheering cup of Ceylon at the delightful Dancing Goat, a serendipitous find on a far-flung foray to Framlingham. Wet Wednesday, premium parking, trad. teashop full to the Sally Gunnells, then spotted a subtle Lavazza sign over the road.
Cosy (and dry) inside, not stilted and walls adorned with original artwork not obviously for sale. One table occupied by a lady making use of the free WiFi on her Apple laptop: like the long-ago Wild Strawberry, I take this as a Good Omen. We take comfy seats nearly sitting on the counter, meaning we can order from our seats. Appears at first that all items on the menu, inc. Andy's tart, should carry the disclaimer "may contain goat's cheese". Me and Grenvyle plump for paninis with more mainstream dairy products. Blessed are the cheesemakers.
Pre-food drinks are good, from A's quality shake through G's hot tea to my Fentimans Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger. Post-drink food is better than good, well presented and served on that sure sign of quality, the Big White Plate. Super pleasing salami panini, posh salad 'pon side. By this time, place has filled with fine arty Fram folk. We later realise there's an upstairs too (unless that's just the loo).
Guts that we are, there's no resisting the cake selection, brazenly pimping themselves as "delicious" and "tasty". Eat me! No, me! Carrot cake is up there with the best; Americano is suitably strong. Plus there's newspapers. And the service is good. Leave the kids in school and take your partner for a long lunch at the Dancing Goat. There, review complete with no goat puns. Only kidding.
EDitorial ± 5-Jul-2008
Cold War Kid
Mum's gonna kill me.
Hunched on the lavatory, lid down, he felt as clammy now as when his biology teacher had announced what they'd be doing to that poor frog.
"This is the final call for Duncan, Carol and Matthew Brunswick travelling on British Caledonian flight BR795. Please report to gate 17 immediately."
Final, the tannoy lady had said: if only. Again, he fumbled with the child-proof bottle top. Again, he failed to get a grip.
His mind took off, back to that nothing November day when Mum had padded upstairs into the darkness. There he'd been, stretched out, using his torch to project aircraft silhouettes on to the ceiling.
"Matt," she'd opened, "I've got some news."
He hadn't looked up. "If it's about the nose probe on the Flogger, I'd already noticed." Often he'd pleaded with her not to dust the models on his shelf. From his very own bedroom, Mum was one part Bruce Kent to two parts Bruce Wayne, a disarming force for direct action at the 1:72 scale. Maternal Assured Destruction, Matt called it.
"Lots of these are MiGs, aren't they?"
He'd nodded, trying to tell a Foxbat from a Tomcat. Mum, he could take or leave. Mother Russia, that was more like it. Sorry, Mrs Douglas had said, Everyone does French and the bright kids can choose to do German Thursday lunchtimes.
No matter. Hoping to pick up some basic phrases, he'd set the video at the weekend for Battleship Potemkin. Couldn't find it come Monday evening: Oops, said Dad, Was that the one I taped Bergerac on?
"Anyway, Matt," Mum had persevered, your Dad's had a job offer that's too good to refuse. So ..." - she straightened his HMS Victory, a nearly but not quite gift from Aunty Maria - "... we're moving. To North America. Canada. Well, near Canada. Er, Alaska, actually."
As his torch rolled to the floor, the beam had hinted at landing lights under his bed. Wow, he'd thought. This. Is. Mega. Until now, the closest he'd been to anything Soviet-sounding had been the Ski strawberry yoghurt in his packed lunch. But Alaska? Didn't that used to be part of Russia?! Wow.
Then it hit - what about Jane? Her picture was hidden in the Sukhoi section of his prize Observer's Book. True, they only spoke during double maths, mostly for Jane to crib his answers and admire his digital stopwatch. His Mum's weekly magazine had advised him to play hard to get. He'd be even harder to get when 4000 miles away.
Another salvo - in Alaska, he'd have to do up his Parka.
Strike three - goodbye, Air Cadets. Farewell, kickarounds at The Rec. Do svidaniya, life.
What a schoolboy reaction to wait until the big day, then hide in a Gatwick toilet. All he needed not to get through this was to hand: alcohol and pills. Well, a lukewarm can of Top Deck shandy and Dad's iron tablets. To think that they'd badmouthed Gary Powers for not having the guts to go through with it.
There came a frantic rap at the cubicle door. Something clicked inside. He wiped his brow and slid back the latch.
"Hold on, Dad, I'm coming."
EDitorial ± 4-Jul-2008
Light Lunches: The Tea Pot, Wickham Market
Like a clever metaphor that I'll forget to fill in later, we're having to cast our net of nourishment ever further in search of new loaves, new cinnamon buns. Pushing our chauffeur well past his theoretical limits brings us at warp speed to the "large village" (so says the all-seeing Wikipedia) of Wickham Market. Pay, display and sashay to The Tea Pot, a trad tearoom that's geometrically sited at the corner of the square.
Sun has got his hat on (hip hip hooray), though we four musketeers aren't going out to play unless we can nab the Chesney Hawkes parasol. Fortunately, by the time we've ordered inside, the shady table has vacated outside. 'Tis a pleasant spot to watch the horn-happy Market motorists go tootingly by. Observe that cyclists are especially welcome: they've thoughtfully provided an external wall against which to lean your boneshaker.
Andy and me had made our selections from the anonymousy priced "specials" board. Him with the runners-up sausage & herb pie, me with the winners' corn beef hash. My CBH was pre-empted by some welcome crusty bread, then was presented in a one-is-fun dish complete with chip. Good, but would have benefited from a splash of HP and a spoonful of baked beans in my plebby opinion. Grenvyle and Kev played it safe with filled bread products, G. claiming the crisps.
K., devoid of Walkers, decried that the lemon meringue was bought-in. Deluded, he bet on the outcome ... and lost an English pound. Which I put towards my carrot stroke passion cake, a patch puddingy. Service was OK. Whole experience was OK. Was I wrong to expect/want more?