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So after the harrowing experience that was The Crucible at the Old Vic, we figured dinner and a couple of drinks might well be necessary. With this is mind I had reserved a table at Baltic which is but a short, stunned lurch from the theatre. We've eaten there before and find that the food, and the cocktails, are very much to our taste.

On staggering in the door, we settled in at the bar and ordered an initial round of a beetroot martini (vodka shaken with beetroot and lime juice, soya sauce and spices) for Lynne and a Black Crush (which contains rum, vanilla liqueur and raspberries shaken with lemon and finished with Chambord and really ought to be considered one of your five a day in my opinion).

These came with a small container of fresh popcorn, and slipped down a treat while we attempted to decompress. It was followed by a pair of Polish Martinis (Wyborowa vodka, Krupnik Polish honey liqueur, Zubrowka bison grass wódka stirred with clear apple juice) and another small container of popcorn. We managed to leave the popcorn alone this time...

Eventually we felt ready to eat and moved through the restaurant at the back of the building. In contrast to the bar area, this is very light though as a space it does have its problems, the worst being that because of the pillars (which I assume are structural) the tables are somewhat cramped and you do find yourself overhearing your neighbours' conversations whether you want to or not. This is something we have encountered more than once in London, most notably at Chez Bruce, which put us off so badly we never went back. However, there is a vast difference between the prices at Chez Bruce and those at baltic, which means we tend to be rather more forgiving in their case.

Cue the arrival of a charming gaggle of waiting staff, including one with a basket of breads including rye, a caraway bread and some pumpernickel type bread. Apparently the caraway bread isn't terribly popular. I can't imagine why... I had some and it was lovely. The British reluctance to engage with things they don't encounter regularly remains a source of bafflement to me and probably always will. That said, and bread served, we studied the menu. It was very easy for me to land on a choice. Ever since a business trip to Poland I've had a bit of a thing about zurek, a soup basically made from fermented rye flour. So that was my starter (and very good it was though I was relieved to not have it served in a massive hollowed out bread loaf as it was the first time I tried it in Krakow). It did contain the requisite boiled egg though, and plenty of kabanos sausage too. Lynne meanwhile, was tackling the crab starter - and they really did mean the whole crab. This was when the lack of space became a bit of an issue, which got steadily worse. She's left handed, the pillar she'd said she'd be fine with was up against her left elbow, and eventually a glass of Georgian red wine got knocked over.

The staff were brilliant, appearing with clothes to mop up, and promptly moving us to a fresh table, where I volunteered to sit on the pillar side to avoid further problems. As I'm not a southpaw I didn't suffer too much, even when the mains arrived. Lynne had salmon, but I was taking the "I'm in a Polish restaurant, I really should go for it properly!" approach and had consequently ordered goose (a whole confitted leg as it turned out), served with red cabbage, even though it wasn't especially wintery - or even at all wintery - outside. It was delicious, the meat falling easily off the bone, and the cabbage good and just this side of sticky. The salmon was pretty tasty too!

And then on to dessert. The sernik (a white chocolate and vanilla cheesecake) served with blackberry compote was too good to pass up, even though I have had it before. Once again it didn't disappoint, and fortunately perhaps it also wasn't too heavy or too sticky/sweet. And so, out of the door at the end, a little over £140 lighter in pocket - not bad as that also included the cocktails - and so into a taxi, back to the car and home to bed.
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Sadly, this time I'm in the Novotel not Andels, and all I can say is I remember why I avoid Novotels in the main. It's basic a Premier Inn with pretentions...
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We managed to get to the cinema yesterday afternoon to see Senna, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether they have the slightest interest in motor racing or not. Those of us who know the story of his life will find it difficult to watch the last quarter of an hour or so, but for me it was also tough watching some of the earlier material, especially the footage of the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix accident that ended Martin Donnelly's F1 career on the spot and came close to ending his life as well. Lynne and I were supposed to be at the track that day, but had arrived to find no sign of our passes, and no trace of our applications ever having arrived. While we were in the circuit office discussing the situation, a hideous silence descended over the place, and even cut off from what was going on on the track, it was clear that something horrendous had happened. While we were waiting for someone to get back to us, we caught snatches of the English language commentary, and knew it was Martin, and it was bad. At that point we cut our losses and opted not to argue any further. We left the circuit relieved not to be allowed in... I've never been so pleased to be refused accreditation. It all came back to me yesterday and it was all I could do to keep looking at the screen.

It's not a completely balanced portrait and makes no pretensions to be. It is still fascinating, and some of the footage is truly remarkable, including an in-car lap of Monaco, and some mind-bending film of the 1992 Williams moving up and down on its own, with no one in the cockpit, under the control of the software. I'd never seen that before and it was pretty weird.

Afterwards, Lynne and I both agreed we needed a stiff drink or two.

Shattered

Jun. 6th, 2011 05:48 pm
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But the patio is weed free and clean, the garden furniture is clean, the front garden is weed free as well, and although I still have the path to do, and will need to do some cleaning in the house tomorrow as well, I think there's a chance it may all get done, especially as the new gardener is coming over in the afternoon to work on it with me. I'm so damn tired though that I'm actually contemplating eating in the "restaurant" at the Premier Inn I'm staying in. It's not inspiring, but apart from a bag of cherries, I've not eaten since breakfast (I didn't want to stop) and I'm ravenous now.

Yesterday

Jun. 6th, 2011 06:35 am
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Was messy and exhausting. Today won't be a lot better... I drove to Hull in the morning and spent the afternoon first mowing the lawns front and back at Mum's house (after building the new lawn mower). Apart from the last 3 feet at the back which I couldn't reach... Need to buy an extra extension lead today so I can finish the job. Then I jet-washed the drive and started on the patio. Again, it's amazing how much better it looked afterwards. The patio needs a good weeding, and the gaps need filling with post-fixing cement, and I just hope I have enough time to get it all finished between carpet fitters, gas appliance service people, burglar alarm service people and the decorator coming to finish everything before the tenants move in on Wednesday. Life is fun sometimes!
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Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

Take the quiz at
About.com Political Humor


It's fair to say this is not exactly going to come as a suprise to anyone who knows me at all... And if I lived in the US then it would probably be true. Luckily for all concerned I don't!
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Just tryng to finally get round to posting on Dreamwidth as well - in case I think I need to.
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