Wednesday, 15 October 2008

a few short summer breaks...

… and a very looooooong blogging break. When even my mum remarked that it had been a while since I updated my blog, I knew it was high time I did something about it. It’s been a busy summer at casa v&c, with lots of little trips and a steady stream of visitors. And not much time for baking.

After a busy July, in which we celebrated S’s birthday (though we didn’t make it there this year, the good people of Paris put on a parade and fireworks especially for the occasion again), bought a car (after 7 whole years without, doing grocery shopping is suddenly very exciting), escaped to our friends’ country cottage (for a weekend of long walks in the woods), and lots of other things, we packed our bags for a quick trip to Greece, where we were graciously hosted by our friend G in his hometown of Piraeus.

It was our first trip to Greece, somehow we had never made it there before, and we finally got to see all the ancient monuments in Athens we had learned about in school. We also discovered why Athens is empty in August: because it’s HOT. So after a few days of seeing all the monuments – and seeking refuge in museums during the afternoons (great tip: museums in Athens have airconditioning!) – we did what every straight thinking Athenian does and hopped on a boat to one of the islands. Where it was still hot, but a beach, a warm sea and a cool sea breeze are an unbeatable combination for a perfect day.

Our island of choice was Aegina, less than an hour by boat from Piraeus, and home to a wonderful sweet shop: Aiakeion. All sorts of goodies there, so we picked a few of each: almond paste with gum mastic, sugared pistacchio nuts (the product of Aegina apparently) and of course baklava. All extremely sweet, but because of their being bitesized, just perfect. And still not as sweet as all the Moroccan sweets we had in Marrakech. Then there were also the many late and leisurely dinners, with the ubiquitous ‘Greek salad’ of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and feta, meat patties, wonderful baked aubergines and lots of olives of course. Strangely enough fish is scarce and expensive. I thought I'd be eating fish all week, but no.

Back home with recharged batteries (no sunshine or real summer in London) we hosted my parents for a week and we made it into a proper British week, with fish and chips (with mushy peas of course), a lovely weekend at our friends’ countryside cottage and a proper Sunday roast at the pub. There was also a wonderful dinner at Rules, one of London’s best kept secrets. It’s the oldest English restaurant in London, they specialise in game and even have their own estate where they shoot all said game.

In September S and I made a few trips to Belgium, for a big family reunion weekend and a friend’s wedding. And we spent my birthday in the lovely and quaint seaside town of Rye in East Sussex. Rye has lots of (expensive) antique shops, a nature reserve by the sea perfect for long walks, and lots of good fish restaurants. Having a car sure is wonderful and allows us to get out of London once in a while. It also means that, when we have to buy or rent DIY stuff, we can now bring it home ourselves, rather than having to organise and pay for delivery of everything. And DIY is all we've been doing the rest of the summer; currently S is sanding the downstairs floorboards, making a lot of noise and dust in the process. All the things we had in the living room are now stacked up in the bedrooms (note to self: stop collecting stuff and do a big ruthless spring clean); the only place in our house which is still sort of usable is the kitchen. Which means in the next few days, I'll bring my baking things out of retirement and will get stuck in making autumn goodies. Something pumpkin-y perhaps...