32.20 – the heat goes on

This week’s sleep: Noctus interruptus. It’s been a difficult time for sleeping over the past week. Last Friday night it was Eid fireworks at 11.30pm, followed by a helicopter hovering for an hour at 3.30am; Saturday night there was some kind of altercation further down our street and a window was smashed, with more arguing following; Sunday night again there was someone shouting – I’m assuming into their phone as they walked along the street because we didn’t hear any reply. What is it about hot weather that gets people out onto the streets and shouting? The rest of the week I also didn’t sleep so well, but that was just because it was hot.

This week’s reading: I started reading We Are Not Ourselves and Lift As You Climb. After what felt like a busy few days, (and some rubbish sleep) it was nice to take a chair in the cool of the patio and sit and read for a few hours on the weekend. I was worried about We Are Not Ourselves but a big plot reveal midway through saved me from my feeling of wanting to quit reading.

This week’s unnecessary purchase: who could resist an alpaca plant pot? Spotted at Lidl, in case you want one.

This week’s necessary purchase: I found a map of the Dark Peak district on ebay and it arrived on Monday. I love maps so I could spend days tracing the walking paths and topography and distances and coming up with ideas on what walks we could do. I may be slightly less excited when it comes to the physical uphill toiling but for now, the planning is very exciting.

This week’s coffee news: It’s been a couple of weeks since we got a coffee from Mustapha at the Oasis cafe. The cafe is now open for seated customers again, although we notice most people are sitting outside. They always have some interesting looking cakes – this week it was lavender cake and blackberry and almond cake. I love lavender but not sure how it works in a cake. I do have some lavender in the garden so maybe I should experiment. (Any readers with recommended lavender cake recipes, please get in touch!)

We’ve also started using this coffee we bought a few weeks ago: flavoured Turkish coffee. They were on sale at the Turkish grocery store, two boxes for £1.00, various flavours. We opted for dark chocolate and hazelnut, as the other flavour available, strawberry, was just too weird. (Strawberry flavoured coffee? Bleah!) This may be heresy to Turkish coffee aficionados, but I don’t make Turkish coffee as it’s supposed to be made – a sweetly syrupy mud-like concoction brewed in a saucepan and drunk from small cups. Instead I put a spoonful of Turkish coffee in with a spoonful of regular ground coffee into my drip filter coffee maker and drink it from a mug.

This week’s travel news part 1: EasyJet cancelled the flight we’d booked for Switzerland in October. They offered us the chance to rebook for free to fly to another city but alternative flights were not on the days we wanted. So we asked for a refund and booked instead with British Airways. On the assumption BA is less likely to cancel. But October is a long way away so anything could happen before then.

This week’s travel news part 2: We are going to Margate. I wanted a few days at a beach and Husband didn’t want to travel too far (he came in when I was looking at hotels in Wales – “Llandudno? I can’t even pronounce Llandudno and it takes 4 hours to get there by train.”) so we checked out the Kent coast and found a nice place to stay in Margate. We have a friend whose brother used to rent property in Margate and despite his dire stories about his tenants, he did say the place was improving, so we’ll get to judge that for ourselves. A rarity for this country is that Margate seems to have a sandy beach!

This week’s travel news part 3: I went to the seaside for the day. I always though there was no seaside close to us in London but apparently there is. Leigh-on-Sea is just over an hour away by train. I went with a friend (as husband hates the beach) and we arrived to find the tide was out and there was just a large expanse of pebbles and seaweed. So we went for a walk, had a spot of lunch and then – voila! – after lunch the tide was turning and we were able to go for a swim. Top tips: (1) check tide times before you go and (2) bring water friendly shoes you can wear into the sea as it’s either sharp pebbles underfoot or slimy seaweed. We got off at Leigh-on-Sea but ended up sitting near Chalkwell station. It wasn’t the prettiest beach area but it was pleasant to be out of London and have the chance to have a dip in the sea to cool down on a day that was otherwise stinking hot.

This week’s dining experience: We decided to take advantage of the “Eat out to help out” scheme and try a local Turkish restaurant. I’ll make a side note here that we used to go to a rustic Turkish Restaurant / Ocakbasi (the Turkish word means something about seeing the food cooking – they had a big grill in the middle of the restaurant) that was family run and always had great service and good food – not fancy but delicious. However they sadly closed (it’s now a hipster cafe / shop) and instead we got a shiny modern Turkish restaurant in another part of the area, with prices considerably higher than our favourite rustic place. But with the discount deal from the government, we figured it was worth a try.

We arrived for our booking at 6.30pm and the place was packed: inside, outside, upstairs. (We should have realised that Eid family get togethers were still going on but we didn’t.) Husband had requested a booth when we booked but we weren’t seated at a booth; instead we were put on a round table for four. So we had to sit side by side to be able to hear each other over the general background noise of the restaurant. We wondered how social distancing worked in a restaurant that was this full, and where the serving staff were mostly wearing their masks under their noses (i.e. NOT PROPERLY). I know it’s hot and it must be shitty to be working and wearing a mask in that environment but I would almost they didn’t bother rather than wear one incorrectly. Husband had come here for one dish and one dish only – Kleftiko, slow cooked lamb shank. We placed our order but ten minutes later our server was back to tell us it had run out. At 6.45pm? Husband then had a quiet tantrum and refused to order any replacement dish. He was ready to get up and walk out but I had put a dress on for this, I was going to sit and eat my meal.

While waiting for some food to arrive I observed the sauce bottles – one chilli, one garlic yoghurt it looked like – being moved about from table to table. There was no wiping down of the bottles as they moved from table to table, from hand to hand to hand. In The Before I would not have thought anything of this but now? Now I’m thinking those bottles are plague carriers.

Husband changed his mind in the end and ordered a chicken kebab. There followed a confusing discussion with our waiter who pointed out I’d already ordered a lamb kebab. “Then I’ll have a chicken kebab,” husband said. “But lamb kebab is ready to come to the table,” our waiter said. We weren’t sure what his point was, but in the end, we received two lamb kebabs. In terms of value for money, the Greek salad we ordered was not very Greek but was probably best value of the whole meal, it was quite a generous plate of vegetables and feta. The starter of calamari I ordered was probably not great value at four small pieces. And the lamb kebab was certainly not great value at £12.50 for five (five!) pieces of meat accompanied by some bread, rice and 2 x grilled vegetables, one of which was a green chilli so hot (in flavour) as to be almost inedible. So we will not be going back and instead will continue to mourn the loss of the lovely family-run rustic place.

This week’s music lesson: I saw this in someone else’s blog post and decided to share it here. How We Made – The Waterboys – The Whole of the Moon. The song has its origins in Mike Scott wanting to impress his girlfriend by showing her how easy it was to write a song. The lyrics were one surprise, but I was surprised on reading this how much of this song was done by electronic means instead of real instruments, and when I got to the bit about the backing vocals, I was thinking, “What backing vocals?” And… Prince? Well, maybe. If you like the song or are familiar with the song, read the article, then take five minutes out of your day, close your eyes, and listen.

Wishing you all a week where you get to hold a rainbow in your hand.

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