London interlude

Just back from a week in London – a busy frantic expensive delightful week, and a week without email or internet. A novelty, but I’m glad to be back at the keyboard. I have a piece to post about the truffle hunt last weekend but will put that up in the next couple of days.

Merry… Oxo?

(from one of the dwindling number of antique dealers in Camden Passage, Islington, North London)

Quiz night at the Troubadour: I managed to crash the party five years after attending my last one. These are brilliant and entertaining evenings which feature themes, announced in advance so people can seek out a poem or write one for the event, and the readings are accompanied by ferociously difficult poetry quizzes. Last Monday was The Inexorable Sadness of Pencils. Here’s a taste of the quiz: What is Craig Raine describing when he says and the ground is full of pencil boxes? Name the Leeds-born author of these lines from The School of Eloquence… His home address was inked inside his cap/ and on every piece of paper that he carried. And who was he writing about?

I was happy to see Catherine Temma Davidson for the first time in a long time. Her excellent first novel, The Priest Fainted, (still in print!) has a special resonance for my foodie life these days. She’s working on a second novel and says food figures in that one too.

London poet Paul McLoughlin and poet-novelist Catherine Temma Davidson.

Steve Hatt, legendary fishmonger, on Essex Road, Islington.

Fighting the neverending battle against street crime, with a taste of the week’s fog in the background. Outside Turnham Green station, West London.

Hampstead Heath. A little teeny tiny bit of it.

The big cheese at Waitrose, Brunswick Centre, near Russell Square.

Paxton and Whitfield, on Jermyn Street, been around a year or two. Cheesemongers to gentlemen, they say (–so where do the ladies shop?) and handy to Pink’s and Fortnum’s where you might like to browse on your way to tea at the Ritz, perhaps?

What we did and didn’t eat at Amato in Soho. Beautiful cheesy quiche and interesting salads (some rather middle-aged broccoli in there but otherwise good). Gorgeous pastries to admire through the glass on your way out.

What would a visit to London be without a nod to Newton and a visit to the temple of knowledge – the British Library, one of my favourite places in the world. The caff’s not bad either.

A foggy night on Primrose Hill.

And: buon natale to one and all. How it was looking earlier this evening in the Piazza Garibaldi, Parma.

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