Monday, 20 February 2017

May 2016 Synopsis

I was uncharacteristically sociable in May, and it was fantastic.
The month kicked off with a visit to Edinburgh to catch up with my school mates Kelsi and Ollie, which you can read about here.

Just after Yannick began his new job, we moved to Bethnal Green where we would be house sitting for a shy cat named Wanda for over two months. She had many loveable and odd personality traits, which I've written about here.

It wouldn't be Teh Travels without incessant ramblings about loads of amazing food we ate, right? Maybe I should start a food blog... Anyhow, I had heard of a nearby vegan eatery called the Just FAB Food Bus, which was run by an Italian nonna and her son. While their burgers are mightily popular, I wanted to experience the full Italianness in all its glory, so I ordered the lasagne followed up by tiramisu. Oh, did I mention that not only the seating but also the kitchen is inside an old London double decker bus?! That's pretty FAB if you ask me.

I probably would have never picked to go to Ice Bar: a bar in London made from ice. However, sometimes you need to try new things and step out of your comfort zone! Finn, whom I had met at uni and had been an integral part of our Dungeons & Dragons group, was in town and suggested the bar. It was quite surreal, as the glasses were made of ice, the bar itself was made of ice, and there were an alarming array of ice sculptures. In order to keep everything frozen, the temperature in there was ridiculous! Even with the insulated cape and gloves they provide for you, we had to leave before our allocated 40 minutes was up because I was turning into a snowman. It was such a strange and fun afternoon, and the cocktail was tasty too! Finn had been recording all the different cocktails that he had consumed in his travels, and it was hilarious to look back at the different pages. Some entries had clearly been scrawled during a night of heavily imbibing, and were almost illegible.
A few days later, Finn, Yannick and Fabienne (who had also come to London for a short visit) indulged me by bouncing around Oxygen Freejumping: an extensive trampoline park. We couldn't take photos, as our phones would have likely flown out of our pockets and smashed on a wall while jumping from tramp to tramp, but if you picture a large building (possibly an old factory) with trampolines laid out end-to-end over two stories in a bright yellow and blue colour scheme, you've got the idea. It was terribly fun, but as out-of-shape adults we were outdone by the hordes of high-energy children and became puffed within minutes. We took several breaks, but ultimately left before our assigned hour had concluded, sweaty and needing a lie down. In order to avoid slipping on the trampolines, we were required to purchase special trampoline socks for a small fee. These were also coloured yellow and blue, and had little rubbery dots on the bottom for traction. (These came in handy when I tried to do a yoga routine on hardwood floors with no yoga mat.)

Have you ever heard of an escape room? It's a kind of game in which you participate in puzzles, but not within a board game or computer game. In real life! Well, sort of. At Escape Entertainment, we all played as a gang of bank robbers attempting to steal the Crown Jewels. While we admittedly got stuck on the first puzzle, which involved a terrifying scarecrow who was supposed to be the KO'd vault guard, we quickly found our stride and finished the puzzle only 30 seconds over the timer! Hide your wife, hide your Crown Jewels - we are master robbers. It was pretty amusing to dress up in the props pile at the end of our game as well.

As Yannick and I are huge fans of Greek food, we took a trip down to The Real Greek in Soho. What can I say? The hummus! The pita! The dukkah! The vine leaves and the gigantes! Everything is delicious at the Real Greek. Everything. Now, I'm usually not one to visit chains, preferring smaller family-run operations; however, the way things seem to work in London is that if a restaurant is successful, there will be more than one of them. Such is the case with Pizza Pilgrims, and such is the case with The Real Greek. They have over ten branches, so wherever you go in London you're never far from some irresistible Greek food.

While Bethnal Green isn't a great place in itself for food (think fried chicken and American fast food joints), there are so many places nearby that it's never an issue. For lunch one day, we rocked up to Laxeiro Tapas Bar and had a feast. We ploughed through two plates of pan con tomate (bread with tomato), as well as spinach and chickpeas, patatas bravas, and more. Like the food bus, the head chef at Laxeiro was a nonna, or should I say abuela, and bustled about endearingly. My compliments to the chef.

Fabienne was a strong advocate for disposable BBQs, having used them frequently when she lived in Spain. Having just discovered the wonderful invention myself in Edinburgh, I was keen for a backyard broil and we hunted through Tesco looking for supplies. Our house sit had a little concrete garden that was perfect for barbecuing (not many plants to catch fire), and we whipped up some awesome kumara and chickpea burgers.

For dessert I had brought a selection of cupcakes back from Ms Cupcake in Brixton, though we were too full to get very far and polished them off at breakfast the next day. Dare I say that the chocolate orange flavour was even better than the cookie dough flavour.

After both Finn and Fabienne had left London, I was once again left to my own devices with Wanda, as Yannick was off working during the daytime. I did appreciate a bit of down time after all that socialising, but it made me miss my friends in New Zealand even more (though Finn and I had a Skype session with our D&D clan and played an RPG called Monster of the Week, which was great fun). I was so pleased that Finn visited me while he was in the area.
With all my human friends gone or at work, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking up pizzas and gnocchis and all sorts of yummy things (Yannick was overjoyed to come home every day to wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen), and binge-watched Making a Murderer on Netflix. Good times.