Archive for the ‘london’ Category

Wetting the baby’s head

July 10, 2019

There is a tradition apparently of when a baby is born that the father and close male family and friends go out to ‘wet the baby’s head’. But where did that term ‘wetting the baby’s head’ come from?

Traditionally taking its name from the Christian baptismal rite, during which the head of a baby would be wet with blessed water, the phrase now commonly relates to the consumption of large amounts of alcohol as a celebration of the new arrival.  The true tradition meant that the Dad went out with his friends the night after the baby was born, I guess it’s some sort of male bonding or show of virility or something along those lines but in this case the celebration was a few weeks after Callum’s arrival.

The upshot of all this was that Roy and Ian headed out on Friday night to the William Campden Pub to meet up with Ian’s Dad, brothers and mates.

The happy celebrations

Eagled eyed readers will note an interloper, Ian’s Mum just so happened to be going past and popped in to say hi. Meanwhile Alex and I were at home with Callum, so what did we get up to? After a very simple dinner, Callum went to sleep and Alex and I followed suit shortly thereafter!

Apparently the blokes imbibed in some suitable liquid refreshments and spent a jovial evening together. Callum has had his head appropriately dampened, next will be registering his birth so all appropriate documentation is done. Next it will be time to get his passport so he can visit all his NZ family.

Showing off Mums new passport, won’t be long before he has his own.

Food at the V&A

July 8, 2019

There is always something new to see at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and we had heard of a new exhibit entitled Food: Bigger than the Plate. We weren’t entirely sure what to expect but at the end of our visit we were both impressed and enlightened to what we had seen.

The trip in on the train was its usual relaxing way of moving across the city,

Tower Bridge, always a lovely sight from the train

then it was a couple of tube trips, first the Northern Line then the District Line to get to our destination.

Information boards on the wall of the tunnel to the museum

The museum itself is always very busy, there seemed to be a number of school groups in attendance, local schools as well as numerous school groups from Italy, France, Japan and China just some of the nationalities we encountered.

The courtyard

John Madjeski pond and gardens

Adults sat around the edge of the pond cooling off their feet in the water whilst young ones stripped off and played in the shallow pool. I’m sure that this will be Callum next year.

After a bit of lunch we went into the exhibition rooms. A bit of an overview of the exhibition can be seen in this Link

The exhibition covered every aspect of food; human waste and what we do with it, animal waste products, to where and how we get our meat, fruit and vegetables and the impact this has on the environment, alternative packaging, advertising, protest posters, communities working together with foraged and allotment gardens, art, development of food, recipes and how they are handed on, technology, and everything else in between.

The following is a selection of photos from the exhibition.

Entrance signage

New type of loo, explanation.

Examples of sustainable material uses

Compost containers made from terracotta pottery, used in India providing continued employment making the traditional pots, reducing waste, compost for gardens.

Example of sustainable production of traditional food and traditional values

Hmm, what makes the bones of factory produced chickens so different!?

Talking to plants

How far has your banana travelled?

Biscuit tins

Orange wrappers

Oranges

Protest poster

At the end of the exhibits we could have a taste of snacks prepared by chefs according to what you value as important for a food system. The following is one example of choices we made, and yes they were delicious and very different.

Which three would you choose?

The above is just a small selection of some of the displays on view, I didn’t include a lot of them so as not to bore you but things like tableware made from recycled toilet paper or things made from blood products or the art works by innovative chefs such as Ferran Adrià from El Bulli and Heston Blumenthal were just some of the other displays.

We spent a good few hours wandering through the exhibition before it was time to head home where this little fellow was waiting for us.

You didn’t think I could do a blog entry without a picture of Callum did you?

A bit of glass at the entrance, just for you Stuart!

A week of firsts

July 4, 2019

It’s been a week of firsts for Callum this past week, already we are seeing him change and grow and I’m sure he is already smiling and trying to talk…..but I am an unbiased grandma 😉. He was three weeks old yesterday and starting to be a bit of a character. He was well past his birth weight after the first week, he is a very long limbed young man which he obviously does not get from his grandma!

Summer has finally arrived so we set up the gazebo over the outdoor table on the lawn for some welcome shade from the English sun. Callum came out and just lay about on the table, happily sleeping most of the day away. I must add that it got up to 34C that afternoon so outside in the shade with a gentle breeze was the way to stay cool for all of us.

Just chillin’ laying about on the table in the garden

Sunday was family day out so we all walked down to the train station and caught the train into Greenwich.

First ride on a train

We were heading to Greenwich market, we’ve been here many times before but there is always something new to see, and taste, we were kept busy looking at all the various stalls, especially the food stalls outside.

Crowds at the market

After wandering around for some time we had a bite to eat, a pulled pork bun for me, traditional fish & chips for Alex & Ian, and Roy had to try a few raw oysters.

I do admit to buying a new scarf (after losing one on recent travels) and I may have bought some Pontefract Cakes (I was born in Pontefract, read about the cakes here) and a selection of lovely bone handled knives which we use as butter knives and pâté knives. I know, some of us have strange likes and our return luggage is going to be a very interesting and eclectic mix as I have purchased 6 toasters as well. These toasters are ones that go on the gas hob and I’ve been using since we found one in France in 2010. They do need replacing every few years but they are not expensive and work better than any of the other myriad of toasters on the market, and believe me when I say I’ve tried them all.

But back to the market adventure. We had all split up to go and look at different things. Later we all met up at the pub in the market for a well deserved drink. Another first, Callum’s first outing to a pub!

At the pub

Of course it was a no alcohol beer for mum whilst Callum slept through the whole outing before it was time to return home. The return journey on the train was uneventful but we were all felling pretty exhausted after our big day out.

The next day Alex tried out Callum in the sling, Ok, we admit it, we did YouTube it to get the instructions on how to tie it, although I must add that we went searching for a clip that included the use of a real baby rather than a doll!! Real babies wriggle and squirm so it was good to see it in real terms.

Doing the origami with the sling

and it worked surprisingly well, and very simple once you mastered the technique. Now why weren’t these around a few years ago when I needed one rather than trying to wrestle with a frontpack with buckles and clips. Yes, I know slings have been used extensively in some parts of the world for centuries, just not in my world.

Look Mum, no hands!

The sling has been tried and tested with a trip to the supermarket which proved very successful as Callum slept though the whole shopping experience.

He’s watched football and cricket and according to Ian he has to cheer for England in football/soccer but he’s allowed to cheer for the All Blacks in rugby. But of course he will definitely be a Silver Fern fan in netball!

Return to Erith

July 1, 2019

We returned the rental car in Selby, Yorkshire, where we stayed with Pauline & Pat again before catching the train back to London. however, once we got to the station we discovered that our train was cancelled but alternate arrangements were made I.e. another train to Leeds then another train from Leeds to Kings Cross. But why oh why is is always that you arrive on Platform 1 but your next train departs from platform 18 and you have 5 minutes to get there, oh and of course there are a zillion steps to go up and then down again. We made it though, just in time to settle into our seats and watch the countryside whizz past.

Leaving Leeds

Some famous stadium of some kind, Leeds!

Once on the train from Leeds we travelled though some familiar towns,including Doncaster and Wakefield, towns with strong family connections.

Wakefield, where two of my siblings were born

The weather was rubbish though.

English summer weather

Countryside and the weather improved

However, the weather did improve the further south we ventured. Once we arrived into Kings Cross it was a walk across the road to St Pancras to catch the next train to Abbey Wood station where Ian was waiting to pick us up.

It as lovely to be back again, and of course see Callum and get in some cuddles.

Although the following afternoon proved to be a bit much for Roy, Alex and Callum, where they were all caught napping!!

It’s all a bit much for these three

Welcome

June 15, 2019

It’s with much love that we welcome into the family Callum Jacob Denny, born on the 11 June 2019 weighing in at 9lbs 8oz.

Callum just a few hours old.

Alex and Ian returned from the local hospital just a few hours after he was born where he was quickly settled into his new surroundings.

Callum chillaxing

And just so that he knows where he’s from

Kiwi clothing

It’s hard to believe where Alex hid him, he must have been tightly curled up, as the day before we went out strawberry picking.

Roy, Alex and Ian in the strawberry patch

Out and about a couple of days after he was born, Roy and I went into a Hamley’s Store (a children’s toy shop), where we had a look at this

It’s never too early to start with LEGO, right?

We are sure that when recommended for ages 2+ means 2 days plus doesn’t it?

And following his parents in more ways than one

Thumb sucking must be hereditary

We have now left them to have time to themselves to do a bit of exploring but will be back in a week or two.

D Day

June 6, 2019

Today is the 6th June, 75 years since the D Day landings on the Normandy beaches and both here in the UK and in France, commemorations are taking place with people from all over the Commonwealth and USA (including the orange blimp) are attending.

Here in Erith, it’s D Day plus 5.

What will be, will be.

Meanwhile, we are still keeping ourselves busy in the garden. We have put in trellis on top of the back fence. One; for a bit more privacy and two; for the climbing plants to clamber along.

Regular readers will know that when we were here 18 months ago, Alex and Ian had the back garden landscaped which included removing a stand of very large conifers and having two terraces built.

Before and after the landscaping

Now with plants planted and the trellis work up plus a small wooden fence around the top level hiding the raised vegetable beds, it’s all coming together.

Two trellis panels in place

The completed work

it’s all looking rather good, so much so we had a BBQ the other day.

Alex and Ian inspecting the BBQ

We have planted up the veggie raised planter boxes but then realised we needed to protect the seeds and plants from birds having a nice time eating all the seeds and the foxes digging up our hard work. So at the moment we do have bird netting in place but I am about to make cloches to cover the planters. However I am just awaiting for some supplies to be delivered so I can make a good job of them, otherwise I may get fired!!

Planters

The new addition

June 1, 2019

We have a new addition to the family, he’s named Lawrence.

He was born this week and is growing nicely…

Lawrence, the sourdough starter

Yes, Lawrence is a sourdough starter that I’ve got on the go. We named him Lawrence because with his covering he looks a bit like Lawrence of Arabia, well if you squint a bit he does!

We have struggled to find a decent loaf of bread here, even the so called sourdough from Borough Market didn’t come up to scratch so I decided to start a bug and make it myself.

I make sourdough bread in the RV regularly and have a good bug growing that I’ve carried around with us for the past 8 years. He’s in hibernation mode at the moment though ready for our return. I usually make bread once or twice a week in the motorhome and we really enjoy it so why not make it here in the UK as well.

Oh, were some of you thinking that we were announcing the arrival of baby Denny? Well, it’s gone from this

To this

Yes, it’s due day today but so far it looks as though it’s quite comfortable where it is, hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer as we are all very keen to meet this baby.

A day at the market

May 31, 2019

Time to have a day off gardening as well as give Alex a bit of space so we headed off into town to visit the Borough Market. With our Oyster cards in hand we first caught the bus from outside Alex & Ian’s house down to the train station, then onto the train for the ride into London Bridge train station. It takes around 30minutes to get into town on the train, it’s a very pleasant journey and we both commented that everything looked very familiar as we pulled into stations along the route. It all felt very much like we had come “home” – well, to familiar territory at least.

London Bridge Station entrance

This station was under major reconstruction last year so this part of the journey was a new experience for us. The station is at the base of the Shard, the Shard is the tallest building in the UK standing 309.6m (1016 ft) and 95 stories tall.

The Shard

From here it’s a short walk to Borough Market. The Market is at the southern edge of London Bridge and claims to have had a market on this site from 1016 if not earlier. Trains rattle overhead on the overpasses as we wend our way through the market streets and alleys, stopping frequently to sample goods and look at what is on offer.

Roy wandering through the stalls

Just after I took this photo I turned around to see a woman hooking her arm through Roy’s, within a moment they looked at each other with astonishment as she realised Roy was not her husband!! It turns out her husband was wearing nearly an identical Katmandhu jacket and after a bit of a laugh and talking to them, we realised they too were Kiwi’s and were on holiday in London. We chatted for some time before continuing on our separate explorations.

Now those that know Roy well will know his penchant for cheese, in fact last time we were here he was banned from buying any more cheeses until he had eaten through the stash in the fridge. So when we came across this sign, well, we just had to take his picture besides it. However he was under strict instructions from the pregnant daughter that he was not allowed to bring smelly cheeses home as apparently the smell is not one she can handle.

Roy with appropriate signage

The next hour or two was spent wandering amongst the stalls including the fish markets.

Fishy selections

I did purchase some fish, Gurnard to be precise as it was less than half the price of most other things on offer and on talking to the fishmonger it was not a usual fish that they have on offer. In fact he admitted that he had never eaten it himself, we told him that it was a variety that we enjoyed in NZ. On weighing the fish and telling us the price, he offered a very good discount on the advertised price plus offered to fillet and pin bone the fish. There was enough in the two very large meaty fillets for two meals for the four of us to enjoy later.

Further along there were these huge paella pans, cooked ready for the lunchtime crowds. And no we didn’t partake in it this time.

Huge paella pans

Roy’s other passion is good, flavoursome tomatoes so when we came across these beauties we just had to get a cross section to try.

A delicious array of tomatoes

After a delicious late lunch purchased from one of the stalls, it was time to think about heading back to Erith on the train reversing the steps we took earlier in the day.

Train route

I’m sure we will be returning here again very soon for another round of sampling.

In the garden

May 26, 2019

The weather has been glorious since we arrived so we have spent the first few days out in the garden. Roy mowed the lawns and then we headed off to the garden centre to get plants as well as some small raised beds for vegetable plants.

In amongst all the weeding and planting there was also time to chill out in the sunshine.

Alex relaxing in the sunshine. She is due next week so not long to wait now, and it is a waiting game. Just as well we have plenty to keep us busy pottering around the place.

It was Ian’s birthday on Thursday so we met up with his parents at the local Indian for dinner. They all know that I’ve been hanging out for a good English curry, they are so different to what we get in NZ. I guess that depends on the geographic location in India or Pakistan from where the people have originated. I’m not sure where but the curries are just so deliciously fresh, and very very tasty. And you know what I’m going to say, yep, I forgot to take any pictures.

We’ve been shopping at Morrison’s, our favourite supermarket, we were allowed to go by ourselves so we could wander around at leisure and take in all the new and different things.

my attempt at a selfie outside the store.

We haven’t planned anything else much over the next few weeks, it all depends on when baby Denny makes his or her appearance. And yes you read that right folks, unlike the current trend we don’t know the gender of the baby and won’t know until (s)he is born. There are still some nice surprises left in life.

We’ve arrived!

May 23, 2019

After an uneventful 36+ hours of non stop travelling, we arrived safely in London at 5.40am local time.

We left Auckland on time on Sunday (NZ time), with an easy, quick check in. Our travel broker Sarah Southcombe (Travel Advocates) had asked for wheel chair assistance for me which I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the thought of but as it turns out it was a brilliant idea. We were taken on board first and settled into our seats which being at the front of the section meant we had lots of extra leg room, the flight passed relatively quickly (11hrs or there about) and we were soon in Hong Kong.

Getting off was a different story though, we just had a short wait for all those eager beavers to escape and I was met at the door by another wheelchair where we were then whisked along the length of the airport, or so it seemed, to our next flight. We only had to wait for an hour or so before we were again loaded onto the flight for the next long journey, nearly 13 hours this time. But hello, a couple of passengers were missing so we were delayed whilst their luggage was found and removed then we had to wait for the next available slot before taking off about an hour later than anticipated.

This next leg was very bumpy in places especially flying over China and Russia, and in a different aircraft where although there was plenty of leg room, we seemed to be crammed in widthways. I tried to sleep, I’m sure I managed an hour at the most before giving up on the idea of sleep and instead watched a few forgettable movies.

We arrived in Heathrow on time at 5.40am and again waited until everyone else disembarked before we were whisked off to immigration then luggage retrieval followed by an exit through the green customs channel to the welcoming sign that the driver Alex had organised was waiting for us.

Just a little aside, there was another woman who was also met by a wheelchair on both legs of the flight, a very, very, loud Australian woman. I’m afraid she did nothing for the reputation of Aussies as she complained and demanded constantly. “I’m in business class” “I need to get off first” “my driver will be waiting for me” were refrains we heard time and time again. As we sat waiting to get off at Heathrow she continually berated the staff demanding that she needed to be off first as her driver would be waiting, after hearing this a few times I did say to her that we were all waiting patiently and we too had a driver who would no doubt be waiting for us as well. When it came time to get off the aircraft, the staff turned to me and said ” your wheelchair is here ready for you now madam” and with that I was escorted off first. She wasn’t too far behind us and when it came to luggage pick up she was again demanding and berating staff to “hurry up” and “I need to go NOW” which we heard in the distance as we left the luggage area to exit as she was left waiting at the luggage carousel. A please and thank you make all the difference to how you are treated, something she could well learn to say.

We were on the road off to Alex & Ian’s in the comfort of a very nice car arriving at their home just before 8am local time. To say we were thrilled to be there is a little bit of an understatement, due in 2 weeks time Alex is looking very good and it was so lovely to finally be here. Over a cuppa we opened up the bag containing all the gifts for them and the baby, with lots of oohs and ahhhs elicited.

Roy managed to stay awake for a couple of hours before heading off for a nap at around 10.30am, I woke him at around 2pm in the hope that he would get some sleep later that evening. I managed to keep myself going until just after dinner time, before crashing at around 7.30pm falling asleep almost instantly and sleeping through until 5.30am the following morning. A brilliant effort on my part I thought.

The knees and hip have been a bit sore, ok very sore, but I’m sure mostly due to sitting for long periods and not taking medications at the right time, but now on English time we have that sorted and it won’t be long before I’m back to feeling better.

So now we wait for the new arrival, in the meantime we are keeping ourselves busy doing a bit around the place, where and when it’s needed. Roy mowed the lawns this morning and I did some weeding, this afternoon we made a visit to the local gardening shop to get a few plants.

And yes John, before you ask, we have been to Morrison’s (and Sainsbury’s), for our shopping fix 😉.