30 May, 2007

In our own backyard

Saturday we met up with Mei Hua and spent the afternoon in town with her. We started with lunch at Teri-Aki a Japanese sushi and noodle bar. Lisa was especially impressed with the sushi but it was a good thing we weren't in a hurry as the service was surprisingly slow. Mei Hua then gave us a guided tour round the grounds of her college, Magdelene, which has a series of secluded and peaceful gardens along the river.

Then it was off to the main objective of the afternoon: the Fitzwilliam Museum. It's such a cliche, but true, that neither Lisa nor I had set foot inside in spite of passing close by every single working day whereas we happily go to London or abroad to visit places of no greater distinction. What finally drew us in was an exhibition of paintings by Edward Hodgkin which looked and sounded very interesting from the publicity. We found the reality distinctly underwhelming: unusually, the paintings looked much better in photographs than they did in the flesh and none of us could find anything to respond to in the works. We decided that since we were in the museum, we should take in some of the permanent collection and spent quite a while looking mostly at paintings and drawings. There was plenty to enjoy there, including a strong representation of French impressionists. We left vowing to return and see some more.

21 May, 2007

Cricket at Lord's

We had a very full day out yesterday. Friends who were unable to use them had given us tickets to see the cricket match at Lord's, the "headquarters of cricket" in North London. The match was the First Test between England and the West Indies, yesterday was the Fourth Day (of five). Much as we both love the sport and keenly follow the major matches on the radio, neither of us had seen a Test Match before. The weather was kind to us, the atmosphere at the completely full ground was buzzing and we discovered our seats were in near perfect position to enjoy the action on the pitch.

The trains were less kind to us, with engineering works forcing us to take a bus from Stansted to Liverpool Street. One way and other we managed to miss the entire first two hours of play which was the only downside to an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable day. For most of the time we were watching, England were batting and building on their first-innings lead of 116. Kevin Pietersen top-scored with an impressive 109. Once they were 400 in front, England declared and we got to see a couple of overs in which the West Indies scored seven without loss.

Lisa took a ton of photos, of which the one shown is a typical example, and we enjoyed ourselves so much that we immediately resolved to repeat the exercise as soon as possible. As it happens, England are playing the First Test against India at Lord's in two months' time and there are still some tickets available for the Fourth Day (again a Sunday) so I put in our order straight away!

14 May, 2007

Celebrating 49

As I entered the last year of my forties, Lisa orchestrated a weekend of celebration meals. On Friday we enjoyed a very special dish of skate wing poached in court-bouillon and served with capers and black butter. This is a recipe from Rick Stein's Seafood book and is our favourite way to prepare skate wing. The longest part of the job is to make the court-bouillon but once that's ready the rest is quite quick and the taste is superb!

On Saturday I was treated to dinner out at Café Adriatic, a favourite restaurant of ours in nearby Mill Road. And on Sunday, the day itself, Lisa put together the intricate oriental dish shown here. I don't know what it should be called as Lisa dreamed it up herself. It's based around the thick Japanese Udon noodles that I love and serves these with just about everything that's good to eat with noodles: chicken, prawns, tofu, and more kinds of vegetables than I can keep track of. To bring it all together, there's a soup that's poured over the whole and the entire meal is thus served in a single bowl. Delicious!