#britishweathersucks

Oh boy, we should have stayed away from the park today, I felt truly miserable in Regent’s Park yesterday lunchtime. It was raining, cold and windy. Apart from keen lunchtime runners, there was hardly anyone in the park.

Even normally an outdoorsy sort of girl Bella was not too crazy about being in this rather dismal surrounding…

Oh no, I am not going in there!

We did play with a Chuckit but every time the ball landed on the ground which was saturated with the precipitation of the recent weeks, she refused to retrieve it.

I sighed and waded into the puddles so I could pick up the ball which used to be neon orange but now resembled a giant dark chocolate truffle.

Hey Bay-Bay, why can’t you stop pining?

She appeared to be distracted by the wind and as a result, she was much less responsive to my recall command. What if she catches a whiff of a squirrel and decides to give a chase?, the thought concerned me because she could go beyond the fencing surrounding St John’s Lodge.

I found myself screaming at her, ‘stop!!’ as she broke into a trot, making a beeline to the nearby hedge. I sprinted as fast as my Timberland boots clad feet could carry me. Thankfully, she froze on the spot, sensing the seriousness in a tone of my voice. I did not like shouting at her but the thought of losing her really panicked me.

Sorry Bella, but I will have to keep you away from the park until the ground becomes firm and dry. Or I will have to buy a pair of football boots with studs so I can run after you even if the ground is greasy…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Alpino Cafe @ Chapel Market, N1

Alpino Cafe, which is situated at the west end of Chapel Market, is a much loved local eatery. The establishment is a stone’s throw from our office and Hubbie and I often eat our lunch there.

Today’s special was chicken pie with vegetables and mashed potato…

Their portion was generous as usual. Nothing can beat a piping hot chicken pie with gravy when the weather outside is chilly and blustery, we wholeheartedly agreed as we ferried the piping hot mashed potato to our mouths.

The family-run eatery has a particular charm…

And their charm is derived from their individuality. The place has the air of history in a quirky way.

One of their walls are adorned with photos of football stars from mainly the 90’s and another one is a shrine for sports cars, notably mainly Italian’s and professional boxers. Their tables and chairs are recently updated and they are arranged rather tightly so the diners are almost elbow-to-elbow during lunchtime. Their extensive menu offers vast choices – from standard English breakfast to American pancake, sandwiches, pasta, risotto, gnocchi, lasagne, omelette, jacket potato, meat dishes such as chicken escalope and salad, etc. Plus they have special dishes which change daily. During the peak time, the service can be a bit slow but no one, especially the regulars, seems to mind. A team of waitresses, who I guess they are sisters, come in and out of the kitchen at a brisk pace, delivering the plates of food or clearing away the tables. Behind the chilled cabinets by the front door with cured meats and cheese for take-away sandwiches, an old lady, who I assume an owner of the cafe, manages the till. She calculates the bill without the help of a pocket computer no matter how long the addition may be and it sounds a treat every time I hear her doing the math with her native Italian. It is like a chirpy cheerful bird singing!

Sometimes, Hubbie and I buy our lunch from chains like Itus and Pret A Manger. It is because we are particularly busy on certain days and we rather scoff sandwich at the desk. However, the recent environmental issues such as plastic pollution make us contemplate if our habit of buying lunch at chain stores is damaging the environment. Of course, we do our best to recycle those plastic containers responsively. But would it be better if we don’t rely on disposable plastics such as lids and bottles altogether?

‘It’s win-win for both! Don’t you agree?’ While I munched on my chicken pie, I confided to Hubbie.

I meant was by having lunch at local restaurants such as Alpino’s, we weren’t producing any plastic waste. And we were also supporting local businesses which had to swallow a huge hike of the annual business rate by the Islington Council. What not to like!

Beside all the aforementioned benefits, we would enjoy our lunchtime together more because there would be no interruption by e-mails or phones. Let’s step back to the time when we had a proper lunch break, Hubbie and I agreed…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Paella, paella, paella…

‘Let’s have paella because there is almost no queue!’ Our decision was prompt because we were very hungry and also cold. The urge to fill our stomach with something warm was too strong to resist.

Hubbie and I were standing by a pop-up gazebo, selling freshly cooked paella at Cubitt Square. The pop-up canteen was one of the many street food shops, especially there for Lumiere London 2018.

Mmmm…, I’m starving…

There were two choices, seafood and chorizo. And we opted for the chorizo one…

The paella looked great and I was only very grateful because the rice was piping hot. However, my joy was short lived.

Why they make it salty?!

The dish was very very very very salty. ‘I tasted the paella as salty as this when I went to Málaga ages ago.’, I told Hubbie as I ferried the rice to my mouth gingerly.

Yes, the seriously brined paella did bring back a bitter sweet memory of my holiday at Málaga. The trip was my very first solo holiday and also turned out to be the last one. I was supposed to go with my friend but she got cold feet at the last minute and as a result, I ended up being in a foreign city all on my own.

After spending tedious four hours in a departure lounge at Gatwick Airport because the plane was delayed, I found myself walking through a deserted arrival lobby of Málaga Airport in the early morning. I can’t recall exactly how but I managed to communicate the address of my hotel to a taxi driver and he took me to an unassuming hotel on one of the quiet streets in the city centre.

My room was small and modestly decorated. It had no TV or a great view from the window. Then, the reality dawned on me, ‘Oh shit, will I have to spend my entire Christmas holiday alone in here?’

I must say I didn’t enjoy my four days in the Spanish port city at all. The first two days was especially boring because they were Christmas Day and Boxing Day. No place, except some eateries, was open and I spent my time, walking around a deserted port and a crumbling fort which overlooked the beach.

The hotel I stayed did not have a bar nor a restaurant, therefore, I had to find somewhere to eat. Would I look odd if I dined alone?, I pondered. Then, I saw a brightly lit sign of a tapas bar in the distance and decided to eat my first dinner of Málaga there.

The walls of the eatery was clad with dark brown wood and there were legs of pork dangling from the ceiling. I picked up a laminated menu from the counter and pointed at the picture of paella and then a word, “Diet Coke”. A man behind the counter gave me a slight nod and disappeared into the kitchen.

The man came back from the kitchen surprisingly quickly and placed a plate in front of me. The steaming heap of the sunflower yellow rice looked very tempting because I didn’t have a chance to eat properly that day, therefore, I picked up a cutlery eagerly and spooned the content into my mouth. But oh no, no, NO! The paella was very salty. It was so salty that I could only managed to eat less than half on the plate, despite I was starving. How can anyone find the dish that salty be palatable?!, I was utterly dismayed.

After the fiasco at the tapas bar, I resorted to eating every dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. Their food was bog-standard but at least, their fried rice was no way as salty as the paella.

‘So the paella you had in Málaga was as salty as this?’, Hubbie shook his head in disbelief.

‘Oh, I can eat no more!’

I handed my half eaten paella to Hubbie who volunteered to finish it off. While watching him scoffing the rice and the chorizo in the dark at Gasholder Park, I wandered along a colonnade around the circular lawn. ‘Next time, we shall take paella with a pinch of salt.’ Hubbie declared as he joined me and Bella. I couldn’t agree more…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Enough!

I wished if I could shout out loud when Hubbie phoned me to let me know that the office experienced yet another break-in. I should have known something was up when Hubbie jumped out of a bed and ran out of the front door like a flash.

Yes, those buggers burglars came back last Monday night. And the same as the last time, they scarpered empty-handed but smashed up the temporary glazing completely this time.

I truly and wholeheartedly want to believe in the goodness exists in my fellow human being. However, my faith in the others can’t help wavering when I am faced with an out-of-order behaviour like this.

So far the only thing I could do was putting our life back to normal and the first thing I did was giving Hubbie a big hug and then got on with a clean-up with a broom and a dust pan.

Later on, a landlord arrived with a team of builders to patch up the window frame with plywood sheets.

Let’s hope the police will catch the bandits…

Bella had no idea why there were so many pieces of glass scattered on the floor.

Now, the police has informed us that they are on the case full time. I hope their investigation will bear fruit because I just can’t take the fifth time!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

She has an issue…

My girl Bella’s arch-enemy is our vacuum cleaner, Dyson, and she becomes super aggressive every time I pull out the appliance for cleaning. As I hoover the rugs and the soft furnishings, her irritation rises in a crescendo and it reaches to its peak when I unplug the power plug from the socket…

 

I have no idea why she is so annoyed by the plug. The funny thing is, she seems to have sussed out that the plug is a kingpin of her arch-enemy and she has to attack it at every opportunity.

Bay-Bay, I wish if I could be a doggie mind reader…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Blog at WordPress.com.