Finding, dining and eating chicken.

At the weekend my boyfriend’s family came to Bristol,UK. Which is fun because, as you know I love being a tourist in my own city but also because you get to see responses to the city from people who don’t know it, you get to take adventures and visit places forgotten or past by. I wonder if being a tour guide would get boring, or would your energy be supplied by the gleaming faces of tourists?

Having walked the city till our feet were sore and muscles in my legs, which I didn’t know existed, burnt and stung with exhaustion we decided it was time to reward ourselves to a dinner out.  We decided to take them to a little Jamaican in Stokes Croft, named Rice and Things. Me and my boyfriend had passed this restaurant several times, like the other lovely smelling cafes and bistros staggered throughout stokes croft, we finally went we had the occasion to go, and couldn’t ignore it any longer. Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain, as it would’ve been an easy option to choose, tired and flagging from a long day out.

The menu at Rice and Things was bursting with combination of foods I’ve never tasted, dishes were named with suggestions of the chefs personality and heritage. The atmosphere was buzzing; people coming and going, grabbing their take-away meals or waiting for the next available table to open up.

Then it was our turn to taste.

When the food arrived we let out a gasp. Thank goodness we didn’t have any starters, the plates were piled high with fried chicken for me, and jerk chicken for the hot spice tolerant. We had rice and beans for a side, fragrant with cinnamon, herbs and spices my amateur pallet couldn’t yet pick out. We also decided to try the ‘boiled food’ option, the ambiguity of the description let curiosity order. The boiled food was a boiled banana, dumpling and potatoes, the mellow tastes complementing the subtle spice of fried chicken perfectly. It was a feast, a mini banquet, the tastes were beautiful and we were disappointed not to squeeze a desert in. There is nothing I like better than to see satisfied faces around the dinner table, the food turning into the subject matter, and nodding in approval that “we went somewhere different”. Everything about this place makes me want to recommend. It isn’t the glossy chain, you don’t get what you expect, instead you get a plate in front of you that has a story, another culture filled dish, made with love and pride.

Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain. I am forever wanting to try different foods, finding back street cafes big enough for about 4 people, or street food with lingering smells that invite you in, but not going to mass restaurant chains. They are popular because you know what to expect, the menus normally have safe go-to options and you don’t have to think about hunting somewhere else, perhaps it is more convenient or genuinely find the ambiance and food appealing. But there are so many delicious restaurants and eateries around that expose you to such amazing food that I can’t go back to chains, not when I have been to the other side, not when there are so many independent businesses offering up food that I’ve never tasted, offering a culture other than the one I’m used to. I like to support these places and enjoy finding them, hidden gems, to use a cliche but they really are.

Food is so much more than an eating habit, for me it is my favourite social activity, at university we would pass up a night out for a dinner party, bring a dish and a bottle and plenty of conversation, I miss those days. When I was younger I remember getting my nice dress on for a “dinner out Friday”, it always felt special. We weren’t sat around our dinner table, mundane and boring from too many after-school dinners, predictable and rushed, too eager to play we would finish our dinner with fork fulls of leftovers ,much to the dismay of my mother. But eating out meant we were fresh in surroundings, the adrenaline of doing something different encouraged interaction and with the lack of distraction meant we caught up as a family, acknowledged each other and listened to stories of the week.

Advertisements

Do you mind if I sit there?

The cinema is one of my favourite activities, watching new releases, eager to see what the world has come up with this time, to watch them on a grand scale with surround sound blasting out from mega speakers, the smell of popcorn and sour sweets. The cinema is romantic, used for first dates and through relationships, offering couples an alternative to couch potato-ing  and speech for approximately 120 minutes. The classic glamour of luxurious red velvet seats and tall curtains draping to the floor, that become epic in their unveiling of the big screen. Cinema go-ers are all united in watching the film, it is like a front sitting room only maximised and shared with a bunch of random guests. My recent trip to the cinema has brought to light some potential problems that surround enjoying a film with many strangers.

After the obligatory popcorn buy, then comes the long walk up the narrow corridor to the screens, Its all quite epic, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Walking into the designated screen you are faced with the mountain of stairs from which everyone looks down from, as their attention isn’t fixed to the screen yet their eyes are drawn to the new guest in the room. ‘um hi’ I mutter because it feels like everyone is staring at me, it dawns on me that we are all here to watch the same film, well what if we all hate it? What if someone decides to get up and leave, that would be awkward. What if the stranger sat next to me doesn’t find dramatic, over-exaggerated scenes funny? Will we all be OK  if I rustled my paper popcorn bag, or whispered the plot to my co-cinema go-er? Do you mind if I sit there?

I watch others enter, watching intently as  those sat before me did, the seats start to fill, empty seats are becoming few and far between, the seat to my right is free , I watch a man as he squeezes past, his eyes locked on the target next to me. He sits. Too much aftershave on and smelling like a fragrance store I became a little uneasy. His arm has claimed occupancy of the armrest, where do I put mine? I thought, there is an unwritten rule, I’m sure it exists, that you half share the arm or no-one gets it, in fear of being too rude or possessive. He hadn’t read the unwritten manual.  Nothing I could do apart from fidget, and sigh with my disapproving stare.

At the final moment when the lights were beginning to dull, conversation falls into a silent whisper as the sound starts from the surrounded speakers all voices are drowned and attention is fixed to that big screen in front of us. Together we are watching, all cosy in our large, very large, maximised front room. I’m sat, comfortably, my choice in seating has paid off and I have a good view of the screen, the film starts. A late comer shyly emerges and heads straight for the seat in-front of me, its fine I know it won’t jeopardize my viewing experience, unfortunately this young lady decided to create a sculpture out of her hair, towering in-front of me, creating a crazy silhouette, thanks no really thank you, there is a time and a place for fancy hair, and here ain’t that place. I left the cinema with a crick in my neck and a tired right arm.

The cinema, so romantic with it’s red velvet, warming smells and anticipating costumers. Unfortunately it doesn’t all go so romantically and those sharing the film with you will attempt to disrupt the order, sabotage your view and arm space ,taking the romance vastly away. Do you have any tales from the cinema? Have you sat too close to a noisy popcorn chewer or been unfortunately the late comer, or seen some inappropriate hairstyles, not made for the cinema?

Good-Night

Saturday night the air is crisp and the sky is clear, the smell of midnight food and stale alcohol begins to linger. The stars brightly  illuminate above in the sky, attempting to shine through the city’s light pollution. Walking through the winding street we start our long journey on foot, passing other’s making their way out for the evening, some returning home too intoxicated to handle the hours to come. Together we walk, quickened steps, too cold to linger and craving the heated venue and the buzz of Saturday night. Gradually as we get closer to the pubs and neighbouring clubs more people emerge, a women on her own, 2 or 3 groups of students I notice and stare; There’s a man stood in the road he wavers and wonders, I watch him stumble and shuffle as he safely reaches the pavement. The long winding street filling up as we go.

We reach the venue, pushing open the doors with a great effort, a welcomed break from the numbing coldness, the heat radiates from the bodies inside, the smell of sweat and perspiration becomes overwhelming, the dim light with a red glare makes it hard to miss standing people and tables. I’ll have one for me and one for him, the barmen looks sad/ anger/annoyed/ bored, where else would he like to be tonight?

The band plays as we stand and we sway, the lights from behind brightens are faces, squinting our eyes we enjoy what we are hearing and when all is done we sneak out to avoid the rush of departing. The long walk home smells fresher once more, holding hands and walking close, zipping coats and pulling up hoods. Seeing my breathe for the first time this season, a good Saturday night, looking up to the stars once more, stumbling in the front door with heavy footed steps, scurrying into bed, heads spinning and sleep overcoming, Saturday night turning into Sunday morning.

Like a fish out of water

1…2…3…Jump

My Mother always said I was a water baby. She told me that she would throw me into mother and baby swimming classes and wait to see if I could swim, my little bald baby head would always emerge like a buoyancy aid, it all sounds rather dramatic but its what they did in the 90’s and apparently babies can swim really well,  it comes naturally.

Mother and I are making a regular habit of swimming. Sticking to our schedule for a once a week mother and daughter swim club at our Olympic sized swimming pool just out of town. It is perfect, big and new, making the water look even more driveable and in a location where we won’t bump into anyone we know in an attempt to re-invent ourselves as Olympic hopefuls.

It took a bit of adjusting to the whole swimming business, I used to swim lots as a child having lessons where we would have to swim to the deepest part of the pool and pick a brick up, that brick was no object for me, thanks to mum throwing me in I would always surface pretty quickly. Recently I haven’t had the opportunity to swim so my first week at this new pool was a shock to the system. What is the pool protocol? After the compulsory warm shower we climb down into the pool, the contrast of temperatures hits me, the pool is cool and surprising after that nice warm compulsory shower. I start to sneeze, which is always questionable in the pool, as my body adjusts to the temperature my eyes adjusted to the bright white lights, beaming down lighting up the tempting blue water. After the sneezing outburst I settle into the water, feeling streamlined like a fish I start pretending to be in competition with my neighbours in the next lane, there is even a spectator stand with, spectators staring. This pool couldn’t be better if it tried. This week I even wore goggles, things are looking serious now.

Kids can use the pool, which is a major dilemma especially when one child decides he wants to splash everyone that passes him, the grown-ups of the pool huff and puff at the child’s naivety of the pool protocol.  At least I have my goggles on, I gave him a mean scowl, as much as I could with bug eyed goggles on, regardless he carried on and I took to a new lane.

I was getting used to inhaling an exhaling between strokes and then slowly my goggles began to fill up, is this meant to happen, it says they were water tight? I hadn’t prepared for the effects of them not being water tight and now my eyes stinging with the chlorine, a fuzz appears over them and my vision is impaired. I got to the safety of the side of the pool, my mum was waiting for me I told her of my dilemma whilst removing the dishonest goggles. She stared, looking a little concerned. Trusting the goggles would keep my eyes dry I didn’t take of the remainder of the days black mascara, what a faux pas, what a no –no, I don’t think Olympians ever face this problem. My stained black eyes illuminated by the fluorescent white bright lights.

I’ve always loved swimming, its therapeutic and stress relieving qualities make it a favourite hobby of mine. I like that you don’t have to worry about your hair or clothes, you are submerged, released from any anxieties or worries. I don’t find it strenuous or do I need convincing to swim after a tiring day at work. Just pop my bathing suit on and jump right in. I just need to remember to take my mascara off next time, try not to sneeze and look out for the splashing child, I don’t have any goggles now so I need to be careful.

What is your pool protocol? Do you have to remember to take your eye make-up off? Or do you forget the ‘No Diving’ ‘No Splashing’ rules?

All I really want is that big brown box

It always seems to be that when you are waiting for a package to be delivered, excited at the thought of the contents wrapped up tightly and cuddled in tissue paper cradled in a big brown box, that it won’t show when it’s meant to. The estimation time proving the definition of the word, its loose in it terms and really distrusting, disappointing but expected, I begin to doubt the prediction. I have to wait; I can’t hurry it along or persuade it to get to me quicker, that brown box has a pace of its own. The apprehension is like Christmas, I can’t sit still for a moment, all noise is muted as I listen for the door.  For the knock, knock, knock. I look out from the upstairs window, peeping through the blind trying not to be seen but wanting so much to see that big burly van and the brown box, if I wait here and strain my eyes as I stare at my street it ironically won’t show its just how it goes. Its almost middle evening, the moon is high in the sky and the lingering red clouds have lost their red colour for deep cool blue. The feeling of excitement begins to fade and the realisation occurs that it isn’t coming tonight, I open the door to feel the fresh evening cold settling on my cheeks looking left and right, no its not coming tonight. My cat scurries in from outside, thinking I was holding the door for him. I guess I will have to wait a little longer for that big brown box.

Daily Post Challenge: Du Maurier.

The weekly writing challenge invites you to write in a style of an author that you love, replacing your existing techniques and experimenting with another. As you have probably guessed Daphne Du Maurier has been the author that has inspired me to write. This is an homage to her as I attempt to stylistic imitate her suspenseful and mysterious writings. My first weekly writing challenge, I think I am a little late on this one but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try writing in my favourite authors style.

Last night I dreamt about what I thought I would forget, not knowing why this vision crept into my mind I awoken early with the uneasy feeling that I was not alone. I looked around in search of the time and found that I has slept right through to morning, the blood rushed from my face as I remembered I had an engagement, I looked for my nearest dress, undesirably left hanging from the night before, and adorned myself with haste.

Anxiety made a dreadful accompaniment to an empty stomach, I called out to the maid and asked for my eggs to be scrambled, knowing I would perhaps not be able to consume them. I remembered the dream again, it crept up on me as quickly as I had awoke from it this morning. The familiarity posed confusion, I knew this place all too well, I had seen the many faces, the different people that had been there, the man who worked solely on his garden row, the old women in her shawl who stared at me blankly.

I was brought back to reality with the present situation, my eggs came with a welcoming smell, but as I presumed I was in too much of a rush to eat them. As I ran from the front porch I heard the maid call out to me, her words were a mixture of urgency and shocked dismay at my swift departure. I could not look back, to miss this engagement would bring more harm to us, my car was brought round and I left my little house, thinking of returning when the clock reached 5pm was a moment of content joy for me. This was the first of many days to come, I knew I had to provide myself with a means to live, this office is a way I shall do so and I shall not and will not look back.