The big day

Photo: Not quite what we had in mind

Jan’s big day. We were supposed to be in Tel Aviv for Jan’s special birthday. SARS-CoV-2 had other ideas. Instead of a boutique hotel for a week and a top end dinner on her birthday we had English sparkling wine on the balcony and dinner at home. I offered to cook for her, but no one gets to use Jan’s kitchen!

The good news is that Jan can apply for a free bus/tube pass, the bad news is she is not allowed to use them!

Colin’s birthday gift plan now scuppered, he had to improvise. A quick online order whilst we still could arrived just in time. It was just for fun. Jan is a fan. It made her smile on her birthday and that’s what matters:

We will have to celebrate later in the year. Our flights have been re-booked for July but we’re not sure we’ll be allowed to fly even then. Who knows. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Happy Birthday darling.

Really Quite Interesting

Photo: Just queuing in the rain

If we had bucket lists, this would be on Colin’s.

To watch an episode of QI being recorded.

Series R. Restaurants. The first rows of seats were set out like restaurant tables. We were behind them in row 4. We didn’t get any food. Nor did they.

If you’ve ever wondered how long it takes to record a 30 minute show then, based on this evening, about 2 hours. We watched an extra bit being recorded for Sport Relief before getting to the main event of the evening. The panelists were Sara Pascoe, Mark Watson, Phil Jupitus and, of course, Alan Davies.

Colin has been a fan of QI since it started. I was smug as hell when I got the ‘riddler’ question, even predicting what Sandi Toksvig would have a go at. All I can tell you is that my sommelier qualification came in handy. Sandi was really taken by it “I’m so happy”. You will have to watch to find out what popped her cork.

After the recordings the production company have to edit all they have recorded into a show suitable for broadcast. Much of the 90 minutes of recording that won’t make the show was very funny but just not suitable for the BBC. Stuff that won’t make it included working practices at McDonald’s, calling Piers Morgan the C word and wanking into sandwiches.

A really enjoyable night out. We’re looking forward to seeing what does get broadcast.

Cladding scandal

We attended a demonstration today outside Parliament highlighting the scandal that is inflammable cladding on hundreds, if not thousands of buildings in the UK, including ours.

Also in attendance were:

  1. Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
  2. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
  3. Tom Copley AM, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing
  4. John Healey, Shadow Housing Secretary and MP for Wentworth and Dearne
  5. Paul Dennett, Mayor of Salford and Chair of the Greater Manchester High-Rise Task Force
  6. Hilary Benn MP, Leeds Central, Labour
  7. Justin Madders MP, Ellesmere Port and Neston and APPG co-chair, Labour
  8. Sir Peter Bottomley MP, Worthing Weet and APPG co-chair, Conservative
  9. Tom Hunt MP, Ipswich, Conservative
  10. Siobhan Benita, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London
  11. Baroness Kramer, Liberal Democrat and former minister
  12. Lucy Powell MP, Manchester Central, Labour 
  13. Jim McMahon MP, Oldham West and Royton, Labour
  14. Matthew Pennycook MP, Greenwich and Woolwich, Labour
  15. Apsana Begum MP, Poplar and Limehouse, Labour
  16. Fleur Anderson MP, Putney, Labour
  17. Shabana Mahmood MP, Birmingham Ladywood, Labour
  18. Rupa Huq MP, Ealing Central and Acton, Labour 
  19. Graham Stringer MP, Blackley and Broughton, Labour
  20. Marsha de Cordova MP, Battersea, Labour
  21. Sam Tarry MP, Ilford South, Labour
  22. Florence Eshalomi MP, Vauxhall, Labour
  23. Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead, Labour
  24. Afzal Khan MP, Manchester Gorton, Labour
  25. Mike Kane MP, Wythenshawe & Sale East, Labour
  26. Navendu Mishra MP, Stockport, Labour

We then attended a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Commonhold Reform in one of the Committee rooms.

Wet and Windy in Woodbridge

Photo: Woodbridge watermill from along the river Deben

Outdoors then indoors. Storm Dennis shaped our weekend with friends David and Carolyn in Woodbridge, Suffolk.


David and Colin decided that we’d ride the 158km to Woodbridge from London. Our wives decided on more comfortable transport. Our ride attracted two other riders from ICC. Desmond and Stephen rode with us to Colchester before they caught the train back to London. It was also another useful recce of the first Stage of the Giro di Muscoli.

Fish and chips lunch in Malden, with local salt of course.

Outdoors continued on Saturday morning with a walk along the Deben and back through Woodbridge. We really liked Woodbridge. The surrounding countryside is now on our list of places to investigate to build the E house. Just don’t tell David and Carolyn.


Our trip to Orford on Saturday afternoon saw the start of the storm and the move indoors.

The rest of the weekend was shopping (Orton smoked fish, chocolate, muesli, clothes) – the pub – another pub – board and card games – Carolyn’s yummy sourdough toast for breakfast. All accompanied by great chat and quite a few laughs.

Dennis was indeed a menace but a lovely weekend nonetheless.


Photo: Home from home. Federico and Colin enjoying a Moretta di Fano

“Bravado” Definition: a bold manner or a show of boldness intended to impress or intimidate.

Nico demonstrated this brilliantly on his last night with us. Nico is the 11 year old nephew of a Pansèr club mate. His dream was to see London. Luckily for Nico, his cousin Federico, who use to work in London, agreed to show him around for a few days. They were no trouble, disappearing all day to see the sights.

Passing on the chicken, Nico discovered he likes English sausages. A lot.

On their last night we treated them to dinner at Vinoteca Farringdon. We learnt that Nico’s favourite thing of the whole trip was the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

We also witnessed a classic example of bravado. We’d ordered Vinoteca’s signature dish, onglet steak, for all. “What’s this?” enquired Nico. Federico, the chef, explained it was horseradish. A bit like wasabi he added helpfully. Nico tried a very small amount and reacted how you might expect a young person trying something so strong for the first time.

Nico decided to try it again, this time a little more. I didn’t go well. Much to the hilarity of the Italian speaking waiter, Nico dived off to the gents to wash his mouth out. We were astounded when he came back for more! This time he was a lot longer in the bathroom and was very quiet for the rest of the evening.


You’ll Never Walk Alone, the final act

Photo: “So ferry ‘cross the Mersey ’cause this land’s the place I love”

A christmas present that turned out to be a pilgrimage. The second, and final, Act of “You’ll Never Walk Alone

For Jan’s Christmas present Colin had bought two tickets for Liverpool vs Southampton. It was the obvious game to choose for a Liverpudlian and a Southamptoner. What Colin could not have imagined is that Jan’s father would pass five days after the Christmas Day gift. Roy was a previous Liverpool season ticket holder. Liverpool scarves adorned his coffin.

What struck us most about Liverpool, is how friendly and clean the city is. Every coffee bar, pub and restaurant we went to we were met with a friendly hello and service. It was exemplified by the Boot Room café at Anfield. We’d only had two coffees before the stadium tour and needed to pay. As we approached the till, a manager bashing away on his laptop nearby spotted us and came over immediatley and asked if we needed help. I can’t imagine that in many London places. A jobsworth would make us wait for a serving person. Well done Liverpool FC and the people of Liverpool.

We arrived on Thursday for the stadium tour. The staff on the tour were fantastic. Knowledgable, friendly and passionate about LFC. We’re sure we’re not the first people to do this but the tour gave Jan the opportunity to do something for her father and the family.

We left Anfield knowing that a few of Roy’s ashes were now on the Kop.

On the way back from the stadium we were entertained by a Scouser cabbie. Jan’s Liverpudlian accent came flooding back as she chatted with him. We were talking about Oxlade-Chamberlain and then Klopp when he mentioned that Klopp had brought his brother over to join the staff. I could see it coming, but it was funny nonetheless. You will have to imagine the Liverpudlian accent “eez brought eez brother over to ‘elp him, Clippity”.

Thanks to Liverpudilan and ex Oracle colleague Martin we had a great dinner at one of his recommended restaurants, Mowgli Street Food.

On Friday we walked to Baltic Triangle, stopping at the excellent Baltic Bakehouse for breakfast before heading to the Tate at the Albert Dock.

Walking through the city centre, we began to wonder which city we were in. It was spookily familiar to us Londoners:

Before dinner we popped into the Lion’s Tavern for a pint and G&T. We spotted this wonderful Resevoir Dogs style photo of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan et al.

Friday’s dinner was at another of Martin’s recommendtions, Maray, in the Albert Dock. On the way back to the hotel, we were by the Liver Building at the moment we left the EU. Not a moment of celebration for us, but a moment of sadness.

Saturday was the big game. Could the mighty Saints challenge Liverpool’s Premiership dominance?

Two weeks before, Jan’s father left us to the sound of Gerry and The Pacemaker’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. As you can imagine, it was intensely emotional as Jan sang along with the Kop

It was a great game. A tribute to Roy and his daughter.

For once, this Saints fan didn’t mind the result. I was so happy for Jan and her Dad.

Something to celebrate