EDitorial ± 25-Jan-2013

Light Lunches: Earsham Street Cafe, Bungay

That time of year, again -- G's birthday, our very own Bank Holiday -- and muggins, self-styled king of the cafes, is lunchtime planning on the fly. Need to find a location beyond the usual radius, though not too far. Want it to be half decent, or better. Mustn't require pre-booking, lunchtime being less than three hours away. Found one: hope it's any good.

So begins our mystery tour up the A140. Takes a while to hit the A143 -- over there is Mendham, home of the Freston Brasses -- and longer still to hit Suffolk's first transition town. Quid to park in the icy wastes of the Wharton Street pay & display. Collars up for the chillsome stroll along St Mary's Street, me bluffing that I know exactly where we're going, then a relieved left down here into the eponymous Earsham Street Cafe. Ah, the whiff of hot food and warmth, tho' G. still insists on sitting by the portable heater (as per Elveden last year).

Menu offers goodly selection of light bites plus there's a blackboard of more elaborate specials, such as pork belly or venison. New soft drink alert: excellent strawberry & rhubarb from Norfolk-based Breckland Orchard. Quick look at the characterful beams and "i" newspaper, then straight into my chunky bean soup -- just the job in January -- and G's optimistically summer-tinted red pepper hummous and sunblushed tomato sandwich. Mutual observation that it's only me in here with XY chromosomes. Talking of XXs, the cafe will be doing a Valentine's Day special where you get 1% off your bill for every year that you've been married: please bring your certificate for proof. Clever.

Keeping with that Feb 14 vibe, the cakes are look good and taste good too. Portions are well proportioned and the coffee packs a punch. Everything's served with a smile, too. Top place, this, and with it comes the memory that we'll always have Bungay.

PS When you waddle out of the cafe, be sure to go admire the array of art over the road in the Cork Brick Gallery, then back into town to gawp at the sheer range of sweets and trinkets in The Chocolate Box. Must head back sometime to the cafe within the Fisher Theatre too.

If it was a car -- Lotus Elan.
If they were passing by -- Louis de Bernieres.

EDitorial ± 24-Jan-2013

Ipswich Lunches: Waitrose

For years and years there'd been rumours, hints, speculation. Every few months the local paper would suggest that A Posh Retailer might be interested in the Civic Centre site, or the old Co-op store on Carr Street, or even the Mint Quarter. Even when they said the deal was done -- especially when they said the deal was done -- you couldn't quite believe it. Then, all in the space of a few months, we had not just one but two branches of Waitrose. Ipswich is now firmly on Miranda's mum's map.

Big out-of-town site opened mid-November and the car parks were reportedly crazy busy, men in hi-vis vests using hi-voltage cattle prods to guide the maddening crowds. Now been open two months and hopefully a bit quieter for our official visit. Me driving, a rarity, and we grabbed a Clearasilled spot next to a mahoosive mound of snow. Past the minimal downstairs grab-a-coffee area, ignore John Lewis (he's at home) and upstairs to the grander cafe, a world away from the Rendezvous down the road. Dozen or so people in the queue. It'll be fine.

We've both been here before with our respective (and highly respected) families. We've both waited ages. As we glacially near the servers, of which there's no shortage, word to the wise is of a 20 minute delay on hot food. When we hit the front, this has risen to a full half an hour. Even on the soup? Now we see two contrasting approaches:

  1. I press on and order the toasted chicken/bacon/tomato sandwich: young guy isn't sure which number flag to give me; eventually I get number 1
  2. Andy doubles back to secure a ready made sandwich, plus smoothie, and also orders a mocha and cake!

Finding about the only free table, Andy's sitting pretty with his array of foodstuffs. That's why they pay him the big bucks. Me, I'm slowly sipping my Shaken Udder banana milkshake. Thankfully it's tasty. Ten minutes later, his sarnie long gone and me still food-less, I decide to rejoin the queue for coffee and cake. After a bit, Andy appears to tell me that my toastie has arrived. I can't give up my place now and hang on for another five mins for hot beverage and sweet stuff. Meanwhile my plate of formerly hot food (and undressed leaves) is rapidly cooling, and turns out to be unremarkable.

What a farce. Girl at the till told Andy that everything's OK until lunchtime. You don't say. Yet the punters are out in force and neither pitchforks nor flaming torches are visible. Smile and put up with it. Cakes are great, by the way. Waitrose: the clue's in the first syllable.

If it was a car -- Brian Rix.
If they were passing by -- Lexus CT.

EDitorial ± 23-Jan-2013


Maybe it's my age. I said, Maybe It's My Age. Well, that and the ridiculous hours I sometimes keep. But when the dishwasher's loaded and the Interweb can offer me no more and I skip daintily upstairs to Beddington -- it's great when you're late, yeah? -- something cold attaches itself to me. Something? Some things: my feet. Blinkin' blocks of bloomin' ice.

Empirically (ooh, must remember that one for Letterpress), I should record the hotness/coldness of my plates of meat every 10 mins, say, from 8pm onwards. Then we could plot temperature, T, over time, er, also T. Maybe T-prime, whatever that means. Or little t, otherwise known as cheese on toast. It's still snowy outside and I seem to have lost my drift. Point being that my toes feel like Miles Davis, kind of blue, when I hit the sack, and it's mighty hard to get to sleep when your extremities have stopped responding.

In fact, they're chillier than a little place on Baffin Bay called Amadjuak:

  • Anglicized
  • Mexican
  • Aromatic
  • Dish
  • Just
  • Use
  • Authentic
  • Kidneybeans

No longer. Not no more. Rien ne va plus. Leccy blanket? Nope. Getting to bed earlier AT A SENSIBLE TIME. Nope. Solution was sitting in the cupboard, flopping around like a skinless chicken fillet. HWB, it is. Neither Hawaii Winter Baseball nor Helmert-Wolf Blocking, but a plain ol' hot water bottle.

And don't you think it's a crime
When time after time
People in the bottle
— Gil Scott-Heron, The Bottle

Stick on the kettle, fill 'er up, being sure to tighten that plug, then pop it under the covers. Job done. Furry red cover, splishy waterbed sounds, holds its heat: really is The Gift That Keeps On Giving. That and the still good book light are must-haves when Wilson Pickett's hour is up. Way back when, there was an episode of The Goodies in which one of them -- TBT? -- got up in the morning, unscrewed his HWB and poured himself a fresh cup of tea. Must try that.

EDitorial ± 15-Jan-2013

Pull Up To The Bumper

Everybody ate together on a chilly Friday evening. Somebody was really tired. Somebody had a friend round who everybody knew. Somebody baked some fab cinnamon rolls. Somebody went to bed not too late leaving somebody downstairs. Somebody wanted to give their friend a lift home. Nobody minded.

Somebody was asleep upstairs under the covers. Somebody got into the car with their friend, started the engine and reversed. Nobody heard a noise. Somebody went into first gear and pulled away. Everybody heard that noise.

Somebody stopped the car and got out. Everybody could see the Mondeo's front bumper in bits on the road. Nobody could miss it. Somebody ran back home. Everybody upstairs heard somebody come back. Everybody tried to calm somebody down. Somebody was in bits like the Mondeo's bumper.

Everybody went out to inspect the damage. Somebody came back inside to find a pen, a piece of paper and a shoelace. Somebody left a note on the icy windscreen. Somebody reattached the bumper with the shoelace. Everybody insisted that somebody get back in the car to take the friend home.

Somebody returned in the car without the friend. Everybody said that it didn't matter that somebody had caused some damage. Everybody was safe. Nobody's fault. Anybody could have done it.

EDitorial ± 14-Jan-2013

TT1213, Week 13

Didn't pan out for us when the doughty Defiants last met those flighty Felixstowe Triers, the game in which Andy got crocked. What with Kennedy MBA-ing in the USA, that left just two of us. Figure we might as well play, already being a couple of games behind and with tough ex-div1 opponents.

Down at the 'Stowe rugby club in the carpeted bar area are Rugger David and Wily Tony. Ooh, new player alert in position 3: hi to inexperienced Chris, son of Brian. Snow falling outside, let the sledging begin. In brief:

  • 2/3 max for Ed, yay!, still getting zilch off David but grabbing a grateful good point off Tony
  • 1/3 for Steve, yay!, coming close against Tony but brushing aside young Chris

We'd have more than settled (unlike the snow!) for 3 points. Straightforward team selection for the doubles -- Steve & Ed -- while they generously allowed Chris to partner Tony. Game went the distance before we ran out on top to claim a 4-6 defeat, i.e. twice as many points as last time. Yay!

EDitorial ± 8-Jan-2013

TT1213, Week 12

Six long weeks since our last competitive game and we've every right to feel (and look) a bit rusty. Coming up to the labs for a return leg tonight are our old friends from Rosary, so that's Foxhall Bob, Tony and, eventually, David plus his Dad. It's a family sport, after all. In brief:

  • 3/3 max for Ed, yay!, taking advantage of off-nights from Bob and Tony
  • 3/3 max for Kennedy, yay!, despite falling off a camel in Dubai-ous circumstances last week
  • 2/3 for Steve, yay!, playing super-positive to brush past David and Bob before losing an epic encounter to Tony (first end was 20-18 to Steve)

That'd be 8-1 -- to us! -- going into the doubles, Kennedy & Ed evidently feeling sorry for Rosary and gifting them a consolation point. Good night for Defiants, and goodnight from me.

EDitorial ± 4-Jan-2013

Light Lunches: Yoxford Post Office

I'd forgotten that in the glory glory days of our dearly departed friend Grenvyle, there was an unwritten rule about how far we could travel for a Light Lunch. Felixstowe was OK, ditto Framlingham, though Orford was pushing it. Now we're back back back and licking the virtual envelope. Have wheels, will travel.

According to both Gene Pitney and Google Maps, we're 25 minutes from Yoxford, including an aborted left turn in Stratford St Andrew. Approaching Y-ville there's a handy sign advising that the Post Office offers both a cafe and WiFi. Wow. Opposite the King's Head is our actual left turn. On past the general store, on further past Main's Restaurant -- looks good -- and there's the PO on the RHS. Unusually, you can park right outside its front door.

Innards are rather ramshackle at the mo', truth be told, but they're mid-refurb with a new kitchen, flooring, tables, in the pipeline. Not a problem. Savoury options are correspondingly limited to a sandwich and crips. That's fine, too. We park ourselves in the window, surrounded by posh chutneys, and flick through the EADT and Places & Faces. Freshly made sarnies turn out to be unexpectedly good. A chat with hospitable Adrian -- picture a Dutch darts player -- reveals that he and his wife are new-ish here, having previously run a London pub. It's flat and quiet here, he says. And that's heaven. Yoxford's an attractive moneyed place albeit full of 2nd homes. Opposite sits Milestone House, quite the picture.

Can't let that fancy coffee machine stand idle. Half-decent latte (save that Lichfields caramelised bicsuit for later) goes down well with some iced lemon cake. Pleasing to see some other folk in here too. Plus, Andy took the opportunity to buy some Blu-Tack too. Great idea to head off to the Post Office and pause for a coffee, in my highly caffeinated opinion. I'd be packing parcels every day.

If it was a car -- Postman Pat Classic Car.
If they were passing by -- Fred Housego.