EDitorial ± 25-Jun-2014

Light Lunches: Grange Barn, Hasketon

Glorious day and Han Solo bike ride, again. Not this time the Sandy Lane. Far too easy. Instead, your actual A12 roundabout. Yikes. Past the Seckford turn-off and pull over to the path alongside which, alas, is nastily nettly. Eventually to Wyevale and the not-so-wide open Grundisburgh road that is the B1079. Which I like to think of as the B(13x83). Up here on the left a bit further, a measly four mile ride under the hot sun. Glad to be wearing a wicking top.

Been to the farm shop here at Grange Barn before. Brand new is the cafe to the right, bedecked with decking, bit like Winkles but with the fine sea view replaced with a car park and field. We can't all be sitting right by the coast, can we? Both Mr and Mrs Andy are here -- together -- and have already ordered their ploughman's. Inside sit some pale-looking people and a few seemingly unlabelled pre-made sandwiches. I take the bacon & brie, hand it over, and the smiling lady says she'll bring it out. Hopes aren't high.

And yet. My toasted sarnie arrives first, arrayed on a modish wooden board c/w salad, crisps and jar of dressing. Really rather good, ditto both the food and presentation thereof to the happily married couple sharing my table. With a Fentiman's rose lemonade on the side, life seems pretty sweet. Andy takes issue with a lump of cheese before realising he's tried to swallow an entire pat of butter, silly boy. Can't really blame the cafe for that.

Chat with the not-from-round-these-parts lady reveals she's relocated here from Vancouver. Wow. She likes shopping in Ipswich. Double-wow. No coincidence that my barista flat white looks good and, more importantly, hits the jolt spot. Top Cakesmith offerings too: maybe not the wisest choice in the 2pm glare, but we share the delicious salted caramel bubbles. Highly recommended barn-of-a-place.

If it was a car -- Felino cB7.
If they were passing by -- Frankie Dettori.

EDitorial ± 21-Jun-2014


(short story published on The Write-In on 21-Jun-2014)

Hellish day. Home to find all the family stuck in front of the telly.

'Dad,' said Laura, 'it's going to be ok. Hashmal is here.'

News 24 showed a figure dropping - descending - on to the white H of a hotel roof. Footage was shaky, either from someone's phone or clever CGI. Hard to tell these days.

He nailed the landing, a perfect 10 from this judge, and walked to the railings overlooking the city. There, he spread his arms wide giving it the whole Christ the Redeemer pose.

Screen switched to a steady close-up. Such a serene face.

'Everyone,' I said, 'it's going to be ok. Hashmal is here.'

EDitorial ± 15-Jun-2014

32 Days

(75 word short story published on Paragraph Planet on Thursday 15-Jun-2014)

Mornings, Geoff reads the reports, updates the chart and learns to say 'hello', 'goodbye' and 'thank you' in that day's languages.

Afternoons, he tracks down ingredients for that night's cuisine, perhaps khoresh, chorba or kedjenou.

Evenings, exotic smells drifting through from the kitchen, Geoff settles down to watch the matches.

Tomorrow, he'll find an excuse to visit that Iranian corner shop, the one with the smiling lady.

After all, now he knows a little Persian.

EDitorial ± 11-Jun-2014

Woodbridge Light Lunches: Green Olive Deli

It is what both I and Eddie Izzard might call a glorious day. Quarter to one comes the call to shuffle up and deal. No, wrong activity. To saddle up and wheel. Solo Shimano approaching 40mph down the Red Lion hill before the Romanesque rise & fall of Sandy Lane. Quick wave to Roy Keane's house, now on the market for a cool £3m, appaz.

Behold the Bridge. Broadly facing Barretts we find The Eco Kid adorning the window of an ex shoe shop. All soled out, there are some shiny new heels in town in the form of the Green Olive Deli. Those handful of tables merit its inclusion in The List. En velo, en retard, I've missed Andy's text: "Fancy a cheese and meat platter to share?" This particular fait is very much accompli.

Not long before our de rigueur monster wooden board is placed before us loaded with a plethora of foody goodies. Must confess to not catching the full rundown from the nice lady serving us, but there's the eponymous green olives, chorizo, wafer biscuits, cheese, olives stuffed with feta, more chorizo, more cheese, and some succulent balsamic pickled onions. Sitting there soaking up some window rays, and what with Andy hailing from Sheffield, we're living our very own version of the O2 Boys' Four Yorkshiremen sketch. Now that, Andrew, is a highly quaffable rhubarb mocktail.

We manfully work our way through these many Mark-and-Lard quality items, Andy pausing every five mins to chat to someone, inevitably female, browsing the shelves. Don't often mention this facet of the light lunch experience but the background music is not half bad, being of the Editors and Elbow 6Music variety.

Gone two and we really should get back to work. Ample time, then, to order a cafetiere for two and a sneakily excellent Portuguese custard tart. The G.O.D. is a pimp for Pump Street, casting its net of sourdough ever wider. Shame to leave but mighty glad for the bike ride back to the big bad office.

If it was a car -- Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupe.
If they were passing by -- Sarah Greene.

EDitorial ± 2-Jun-2014

Devon, We're In Devon

We've queued into Cobham, skipped Stonehenge to sally via Salisbury, admired the convenience of the McD loos at Sparkford and our bags for life are bulging thanks to Morrisons at Paignton (which The Boy insists is pronounced Paggington). Finally, with over 300 miles clocked up in the family motor over the last nine hours, we arrive in our quaint Devon town. Still plenty of light as we park the car in the area known as the bandjoe. Compare and contrast Badalucco.

Our printed directions aren't too clear what's next. There's a gate guarding a passageway: that'll do, then:

  • up 7 steps at the end of the passage
  • left turn, up 9 steps
  • right turn, up 5 steps
  • right turn, up 8 steps
  • left turn, up 5 steps
  • right turn, up a final 41 steps to the front door

None of us could quite agree on the total but let's say I'm right. I am the daddy, after all. I make it 75 of the beasts. Add a further 75 to return for the remaining luggage and shopping, and another 75 to re-do the ascent. People pay good money for gym memberships when they could simply hire this cottage.

Was it worth it? Heck, yeah. Simply stunning view up there overlooking the estuary. There's Dartmouth over the water, the naval college on the hill, two (count 'em) ferries crossing from early up to 11pm, and lots of green. Not enough for you? Oh, and an actual steam locomotive several times a day, Kingswear being the terminus for the Dartmouth steam railway starting up there at Paggington. Hard to beat, and the whole shebang becomes illuminated when darkness falls.

Honorary half-term holiday cafe mentions for:

  • Dartmouth Castle cafe for generous helpings of quality ices, plus cool Radio Dart Cafe Lounge, thankfully still open late Sunday pm, for vg flat whites and rocky road
  • faded charms of Castle Barton tearoom opposite Compton Castle
  • fab little cafe at ruinous Berry Pomeroy for more vg ice cream
  • authentic Italian vibe and great coffee of The Curator Cafe in transition town Totnes
  • Kingswear station buffet for Brief Encounter cream teas
  • nouveau glamour of River Cottage Cafe in Royal William Yard, Plymouth for restorative coffee and yoghurt topped flapjack
  • welcoming beach cafe on wondrous Blackpool Sands for yet more ices
  • plus NT tea rooms of D'Oyly Carte Coleton Fishacre, Agatha's Greenway House, posh Saltram and Ottos Overbeck's

Rather enjoying these half-terms.