Sunday 14 April 2013

Sarff of the river...

Picture the scene. It's 6am. It's Saturday morning. I'm home in Contrary Towers. And I can have a long luxurious lay in, salivating the prospect of an idle day filled with such delights as cleaning the oven and sorting out the den of iniquity that is our pan cupboard.

Which is why at 6:30am I was in the kitchen making dough for bread. Before retiring for an hour with tea and a ginger nut to nibble on. As you do.

Returning to knock the dough back at 7:45am I realised I still had no idea what on earth I would like to do assuming, that is, I could summon up the energy to do something alone. I'm having an issue with this at the moment, I've talked about it elsewhere. It's debilitating and worrying the hell out of me that it's having an effect on my nearest and dearest. Still, a difficult cycle to break.

After a second round of tea, ginger nuts and pondering I actually got myself looking vaguely human and challenged the weather with a sun-dress that had not seen the light of day since, well, last summer. And baked the bread.

Still no ideas. Fortunately as the bread cooled the boss got in touch to say we had a bit of an issue, which it
*actual breadface*
turned out we sort of didn't, but at least it put my ambling brain back in to gear.

So I made a bacon, egg and fried bread sarnie. The sort that appears on health warnings. Oh yes, I was challenging fate on many levels today.

As I fried and my health concious flatmate looked on in disgust, the phone rang. It was my dear friend Ray who, unexpectedly was at a loose end and heading towards Central London. After a hasty conversation I asked him to divert via Mile End and I returned to the trick task of eating said behemoth of a sandwich.

One has to have priorities.

To be fair, it wasn't just the artery clogging I was interested in, I was waiting to hear back from said boss and see whether I was needed. Talking of needed, I needed a cup of tea, which in the excitement (I need to get out more) I'd neglected to make, my flatmate's boyfriend gallantly stepped in and made sure I wouldn't do without. Phew.

Time passed and after seeing Clare and bf off for their own adventure, I went looking for Ray as he was surely nearby by now. He wasn't. I looked around the wharf, nothing. Errr. *calls* "Hello, you're conspicuous by your absence...". Since January there has been a running joke which all started when he reckoned I had my phone upside down because I reckoned the Truman Brewery was in the opposite direction to what he reckoned. And I've not let home forget it. Mostly because he still insists I'm wrong. Anyway. So I'd given clear instructions, if you catch the 323 get off at St Pauls Way School, if you get the 277, D6 or D7 get off at Pixley street. The penultimate call had been to say he was at St Pauls way so I gave final directions and waited.

Trouble is, he'd used the 323 instructions on the 277 and, as it happens, there *is*  a bus stop just before Pixley called, yep, St Pauls. I was a little confused as to why he said he'd turned left in to my road instead of right. The penny still didn't drop until he mentioned the name of the warehouse he was going past. I might have giggled.


Anyway. I downed him with a vat of tea whilst I did a couple of last work things, then off we wandered towards Mile End with a discussion of urban architecture along the way. This can be summed as I thought it looked much better around here, and he hated it. Obviously he's wrong. The cheeky chatting continued all the way to Mansion House. As we crossed the bridge though, he started to twitch. It turns out, like the dulachán he couldn't cross water, or, as it turns out, go to the sarff of the river.

He started to sweat.

Okay I said, the Tate is like a North of the River diplomatic zone, it's not southern territory. He disagreed. He does a lot of that. No, that's only Waterloo. Eh? So we looked back to the promised land of the North and I passed comment about the architecture. He didn't like the Shard, obvs. I said how nice it was to see the Walkie Talkie being glazed... He claimed that wasn't it, it was another building.

Unusually I acquiesced, well, sort of acquiesced, and we continued on to the Tate. Plotting.

After a wander around the Lichtenstein Retrospective, I dragged him up the the members room for tea and a cookie. He had been moderately good after all. Now, it turned out, not only had he not been to the Tate before (sarff of the river, obvs) but, needless to say, he'd not been to the terrace for what is one of the fabulous views of London. Something to keep a man with a camera happy.

The pigeons helped too.

Pluck Brits in their element...
That wasn't a euphemism. The rain started. Within a few minutes only us and two ladies of a certain age, who were also british, were left doing that plucky stiff upper lip thing. Clearly insane. By now the day is meandering towards dinner time so, we headed back to Contrary Towers as I promised to cook. I'm glad we'd decided to do that, by the time we got back to the north side my tights were decidedly soggy, I didn't fancy wandering any further.

A quick trip around the Tower Hamlets answer to Fortnum and Mason and it was home in time for a stiff cup of tea and a meatball bake a lá Victoria.

You'll want a recipe? Okay...

  • Olive oil
  • a pack of Lidl's finest 100% Scottish Beef meatballs
  • A yellow pepper, other colours will do, but today I fancied yellow
  • A suitable amount of garlic 
  • An onion, chopped really small
  • A dirty great squirt of tomato puree
  • Two tins of chopped tomatoes
  • half a teaspoon of rosemary, or that's what it looked like
  • A good dash of ground peppercorns
  • Roughly a quarter teas spoon of crushed chillies
  • I think about 250g of pasta, I used a mix of penne and pennoni as I had some
  • Some brown sugar to soften the taste
  • Mozzarella and a hunk of permesan to grate
  • A glug of wine
  • Another glug of wine for the chef
So I chopped the onion and pepper, through it in the pan with the garlic and olive oil and fried to soften. After a bit I threw in the meatballs with the wine then toss stirred from time to time until they were brown (lid on pan, lift and shake up and down, saves breaking the balls with a spoon), and put the pasta on to cook, next I added the tomatoe puree, tins of tomatoes and, after grinding with a mortar and pestle, the rosemary and peppercorns. I left this to simmer. When the pasta was cooked I drained and added to the main mix and left to infuse and bubble for another ten minutes. Finally I ladled everything in to two pasta dishes layered slices of mozzarella and grated parmesan over the top before popping in the oven until it was melted and bakey.

A bit like this...

The rest of the evening was your usual rumbustious affair of wine (or beer in his case), more cheeky chattering and me introducing the delights of Marina and the Diamonds. He'd never heard of them! Terrible.

And googling the Walkie Talkie.

Which he was resisting. And we know why... If you look in the dictionary for insufferably smug you might see a picture of me. Oh yes, as I was saying earlier...


When will he learn I'm always right? So it was a lovely day, a truly lovely day and it ended with a call to a taxi company to whisk him to some strange place called Essex. I've heard talk of it, but assumed it was just a myth used to scare delicate flowers such as me. The company said twenty minutes, his phone buzzed about 1 minute later! Efficient.

We stumbled outside and, sure enough a smartly suited driver had arrived in a black Mercedes, he got out as we approached to open the door. I was impressed. Truly. And with a brief hug the clock struck midnight and he whisked off before the Mercedes turned in to a 1982 Lada and the driver wore a tank top with what was hopefully a cyrry stain down the front.

So now it's Sunday. And, dear reader...

I'm going to Essex...

1 comment:

  1. I really, really need to write a proper response to this almost defamatory posting...

    That said, it was a great way to spend a day, if one can look past doing so with an uppity Geordie... xx