Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Kangaroo



After completing my swimming teacher course (you can read about that here) a small select group of us went out together for food and drinks.



Actually the rest of the group were invited - as a bit of an after thought - but they all either had trains to catch, other plans or quite possibly found those of us who were going a little too loud and annoying.


Two of the group are from South Africa and seeing as the course was in Acton - which is a short bus ride from Shepherd's Bush - we ended up going to a South African restaurant called 'The Meat Co' at the Westfield Shopping Centre. I used to live fairly close to Westfields - I still do only I now I live close to the one in East London - and so I must have walked past 'The Meat Co' a hundred times but I'd never been in before.

It was nice. Slightly pricey but the decor was nice, the staff were great and so was the food. The experience was also enhanced by having good company -  even if everyone was a little tired and hungry - but even if you can't guarantee yourself good company I would recommend a visit to 'The Meat Co' - unless you're a veggie. The menu was unsurprisingly (given the name) dominated by meat - it looked like a good place to take a date or if you live in the business lunch kind of world, maybe a good place to take a client.


So this is the part of the blog where I address it's title: KANGAROO
and also the year31prject mantra: To make the 31st year of my life the best yet by trying as many new things and learning as many new skills as possible. 

I looked through the menu. The chicken skewers sounded nice. I do love a good chicken skewer. The tempura chicken burger sounded good too. Plus that's one of the specials and I'm eternally skint so maybe that's the best option. What else could I have. The lamb? A nice steak? You can't go wrong with a good medium-rare steak.

Or I could go for the Kangaroo haha. No I don't think so... actually...wait, maybe I should go for the Kangaroo? If I'm being honest I'd rather just have the chicken skewers. I know I'll like that! What if I order the Kangaroo and I don't like it. What a waste of money that would be and if it's so bad I can't eat it, I'll still be hungry too.

But then - with a little encouragement from the rest of the group -  I thought to myself "that's not really in the spirit of the Year31Project now is it?" If I wasn't doing this project I think I would have gone with the chicken burger. In fact I know I would have. But I am doing this project. Plus where better to try Kangaroo than at a South African restaurant... hang on? You don't get kangaroos in South Africa do you? Never mind. Like I said this is the Year31Project so I took a gamble and ordered the Kangaroo.

The waiter said it was a rich dark meat similar to other game animals. "Have you eaten venison" he asked. I haven't but I'm already sold. Not least because it gives me something to blog about haha. So I order the Kangaroo (medium-rare as the waiter suggests).

In the time between ordering and receiving our food we shared some biltong and droewors:



And while I chewed on the biltong and dorewors - which although looked like dog treats tasted really good and was two more new foods for me  - I had enough time to reflect on my food decision. I'm doing the right thing I think but I wish I was getting the skewers. Then the food starts to arrive. I watch everyone else's come before mine. They all look and smell amazing.



Then mine finally arrives.



 And it's silly but I'm slightly apprehensive. But luckily it looks just like beef. I cut into it. The meet is soft and cooked just how I like it - how I would have a steak - nice and pink with a bit of blood oozing out as you cut into it.

Here goes. I'm going to eat Kangaroo for the first time and... WOW! This is amazing. So soft and sweet and juicy and just wow. It's tasty and the rich gravy compliments it perfectly. It comes with a potato (thing) which was also really nice but the meat is just unreal. So amazing I can't help but finish every last bit.



It's everything I can do not to lick my plate clean haha.

So there it is. I tried three new foods! The biltong and the droewors were really nice but it was the Kangaroo that was the revelation. It was beautiful. Not cheep but worth every single penny! If I see it on the menu again it's the only thing I would order. & I would definitely recommend that you try it if you get the chance!

Happy Eating




Sunday, 13 April 2014

London Marathon

I need to start by saying I didn't run the London Marathon.
In fact I very much doubt that I will ever run a marathon.





I've never been much of a runner. When I was in school, running the London Marathon was something that I really wanted to do. And when I was about 20 I ran around the woods near my house every day for 6 weeks but that's about as far as my "running career" goes. So maybe I could rekindle that dream of running a marathon at some point? Although with my left knee - that doesn't like walking long distances much let alone running for 26 miles - it might be a bit difficult... if not impossible.

But not only have I never run in a marathon - or any type of long distance race - I have never even been to the London Marathon as a spectator. I've lived in London for coming up to 5 years but there are a number of things - like the London Marathon - that I have never been too. For example the Chinese New Year Celebrations, Trooping the Colour or the Notting Hill Carnival.

I've always wanted to go to these things - hopefully I will go to some this year - but I have always been out of London, just had a nice lie in instead or if the weather has been nice, I've decided to go on a little picnic or walk or something instead.

And on more than one occasion it's just so happened that I've gone to Brighton on a day trip on the day of the marathon. It's been a nice day so we've jumped the train from London Bridge and witnessed the throngs of people streaming into London, while we were heading out thinking what on earth is going on today? It normally seeing people with their medals hanging around their necks on our return when it's finally clicked.

So this year I thought I'd go down and lend my support to the wonderful people running in aid of C.A.L.M - the Campaign Against Living Miserably. Only unfortunately for me that didn't quite happen (by which I mean it didn't happen at all). Let me share with you why it didn't happen. This project seems to be quickly turning into 'the things I wanted to do for the first time but failed miserably to do so'. I NEED to change that!


So here it is. This is what happened:

My alarm was set for 9am. But some reason I woke at 8.59am and looked at my phone - which had been on silent - to see that I had five missed calls and an answer machine message. All from work!

Someone mustn't have turned up for their shift, I think. They need someone to cover. Well I'm sorry but there's no way I'm going in today. Not only is it a Sunday morning but I've got plans. I'm going to check out the marathon for the first time. Cheer the people on.

But then it hits me. What if I'm supposed to be in work? No, no I don't do Sunday mornings. Sunday afternoons sometimes but never Sunday mornings. I check my diary to be sure. No, nothing in there. I'm not supposed to be in and I don't want to cover but seeing as I'm getting up anyway, I should probably at least listen to the message. If only to get rid of the annoying little tape symbol at the top of my phone's screen. I should also probably ring back and tell them that unfortunately I can't help them out this time.

I play the message: "Hi Anthony this is *** from Virgin Active. I've got you down on the rota for today..." SHIT! It was me! I'm supposed to be in? What? That can't be right, he must be mistaken? I go into my emails and check the rota. There it is in black and white - actually in truth there's red and yellow and all sorts of colours involved - I'm supposed to be in work. I should have been there over an hour ago!

I don't get it. I never do Sunday mornings! And it's not in the diary. Why isn't it in my diary? If it's not in the diary there's absolutely no chance of it getting done. But I have to go in. So I jump up out of bed, throw on some clothes, run out the door and all the way to the station, ringing to apologise and say I will be there at around 10am as I go. Half hoping Fully hoping that they have already found cover and therefore won't need me to come in. Meaning that I can head to the marathon instead. They haven't!

So I head into work instead and tell people off for diving, running, taking pictures and taking babies into the spa. All the time thinking I should be down at the marathon helping to spur on the brilliant and slightly crazy runners. What a failure! And by the time I've finished my shift - their might still be a few strugglers struggling towards the finish line - the race is over and so I head home.


But I did actually complete a first this weekend. Not a particularly impressive one but they all count. This weekend my parents came down to visit me and after a nice bit of lunch at Bills - if you haven't been you should try it out they're really nice. Especially the one in Brighton. - we headed to Harrods.



Ok so Harrods is not as impressive as it might once have been. At least not on the inside. The actual building is still pretty impressive!

Today they let anyone in. Most people - me included - were dressed in trainers and a hoodie. Long gone are the days when you had to wear collar and cuffs and have more money in the bank than a small country. These days it's still very much a tourist attraction but it's just a big department store (with a famous history). A big one but not a particularly special one unfortunately (at least I didn't think so).

But it was still the first time I had been. So no I didn't see the marathon... again! But I did see Harrods. Although I didn't get a photograph. I thought about it. Me and me mum stood in front of a Harrods sign - all exaggerated smiles and at least one of us with our eyes closed - but I thought it was way too touristy and so I didn't suggest it. I also didn't think I would be blogging about it. So I'm slightly regretting it now.



Saturday, 5 April 2014

International Pillow Fight Day

Today was International Pillow Fight Day and I was looking forward to celebrating it for the first time.

The last time I remember having a pillow fight was when I was about 10 years of age. I was sleeping over at my friend Ben Hughes' house. I remember having a pillow fight - but it not being my idea - and I remember Ben's dad shouting at me - something that was quite out of character for him - because in a moment of overzealousness, I had caught Ben's younger brother - who I think was called Adam? though I might be remembering that wrongly - who was 3 years younger than we were and therefore a whole lot smaller than we were too, full in the face and a little harder than I had intended. Inadvertently making him cry. Which I wouldn't mind except he was always whimpering about something!

I'm 100% sure that I've had pillow fights since. Me and my younger sister would have pillow fights and one of our favourite games was to recreate the TV show Gladiators. Saracen was my favourite Gladiator and it was my long time dream - in the years before I realised I wouldn't grow up to be 6 foot 3 and built like a WWF wrestler - to be a contestant on the show. And I'm sure that these recreations involved pillow fights in some form (for sure during a recreation of the classic game Duel).

Play fighting is also very much a part of flirting etiquette - or at least a solid part of mine - and so there's no doubt that I have had pillow fights with a few of the girls I've liked over the years. So it's not that I haven't had a pillow fight in the last 20 years. It's just that I can't remember when.

But I've never celebrated International Pillow Fight Day before and I've never been part of a giant pillow fight either. But hopefully that was about to change. The plan was to head to Trafalgar Square where thousands of people would be gathering for a giant pillow fight - one of many planned for cities around the globe.

Only things didn't quite turn out as planned. Firstly most of my - few close London based - friends couldn't make it due to being away for the weekend, working or moving flats etc but there was still a couple of us up for heading down. Except then we heard that event was cancelled and decided not to go. But was it really cancelled? The Mayors office certainly wanted you people think so. I believe it was even printed in Time Out - where I originally read about the event - that the event had been cancelled.

So it looked like being a little pointless in going down. But in the end - I hadn't made any alternative plans - I thought I would go down and see what happens. I didn't take a pillow - which I would maybe regret - but I took my camera.

And it seems like Boris's office were just being a little naughty. For some reason or other they didn't want the mass pillow fight to take place and so they had tried to convince everyone that it had been cancelled.

But before I even got there, it was clear that although some people might have been put off from attending. Not everyone had been.



 And when I did get there it was extremely busy.



Was there enough people to break a world record? The current World Record of 3,706 was set in Chicago last October and there were a lot of people at Trafalgar Square but I don't think it was enough for a new record. What a great way to be able to tick "set a new world record" off my list that would have been.

But regardless of numbers the pillow fight was well and truly on.



And it looked like so much fun. So much so I nearly picked up a pillow I saw lying on the floor and started hitting random people around me. But I felt a little too self conscious (unfortunately) and just took pictures of others enjoying themselves instead :(

There seemed to be a lot of other people doing this too. Maybe more people taking pictures than were pillow fighting? I think a lot of the people there seemed to be just passing - many of whom appeared to be tourists - and upon seeing what was going on stopped to take a photo or ten.



But - despite the event being "cancelled" people had turned up - pillows in hand - in force. & I'm not too sure what Boris' reason for trying to ban the event were? Maybe he doesn't like people having fun? Maybe it was on safety grounds? I doubt that! No, I think it's more likely because they weren't getting paid to use Trafalgar Square and also maybe because there was bound to be quite a mess to clean up.

There were literally feathers everywhere.





They were in the air all around me and I certainly sneezed a fair few times.



So - whatever their reasons - they made up some excuse about construction work to barricade Trafalgar Square off.



Leaving in completely empty.



However, if they were at all concerned about safety? By fencing off Trafalgar Square they only made the situation more dangerous by squeezing the many, many pillow fighters into the narrow strip of concrete between  the square and The National Gallery. It was quite claustrophobic in there!



All in all though I think the event was quite a success. People turned up inmass, had fun and as far as I'm aware went home without anyone getting hurt. I hope that it goes ahead again next year without the mayors office attempts to disrupt it.

Because although a success for the organisers. Yesterday was quite frustrating and somewhat of a failure for me personally. But I hope to join in in a mass pillow fight soon. Hopefully I will make it along to one of the monthly events held by Focal Local - who host lots of fun other events - and if not there is always next year!

Happy Pillow Fighting :)