Down to Chichester for a sunny weekend with Sarah.   Mum & Dad’s cute cat visitor came to visit again and seemed to welcome some fresh faces to cuddle him – not to mention fresh laps to sit on.

"Thomas" "Thomas"
"Thomas" "Thomas"
"Thomas" "Thomas"

After that, a trip round the Cathedral:

Chichester cathedral Budgies in Priory Park
73/365 Doorway Candles
On the walls Choir

Dinner that evening at The Earl of March in Lavant.  I recall this place from my youth as being a scruffy sort of pub, with little reputation, then as an empty boarded up place.  I’d not really paid it much attention since 2007 though when it was acquired by Giles Thompson, the former Executive Head Chef of the Ritz. And now the food is delicious and tasty, the place is well presented, and service attentive and polite.  I had fillet of West Sussex beef with rosti potato, spring greens, wild mushrooms & peppercorn sauce followed by sticky toffee pudding with toffee Sauce and vanilla Ice Cream. Recommended.   That just left us with time on Sunday morning for a walk from Emsworth to Langstone, finishing with a pint (well, Sarah had an apple juice – she was driving) sat on the wall by the Royal Oak soaking up the sun and watching Muffin the Westie running around. Recommended if you’re anywhere in the Chichester area looking for a good meal.

Seaside pub 74/365 "Muffin"

To be honest, the earlier episodes of the 2009 series of Masterchef have been of variable quality – and variable interest!  The first few weeks were, sadly, a bit predictable.  Whilst they’ve tried to mix up the formula from earlier years, it’s resulted in a little too much of a production line feel:

  • six down to three in the first round feels like an excuse. Last year they just started with three candidates, who were generally more able.  I’m surprised – wouldn’t it cost more to get three more contestants than to do some more vetting beforehand? Or perhaps there was always this vetting and we never saw it on film – and this is just the credit crunch biting as we lose a three person innovation round?
  • the judging has been a little predictable.  It’s always two through, two out, debate the last two. Why not mix it up occasionally?
  • Gregg and John, whilst incredibly knowledgeable about food, DO APPEAR TO SHOUT ALL THE TIME!

But there have been some truly memorable moments.  As ever, these come both from the exceptionally good and the exceptionally bad:

  • the man who grated butter, instead of cheese, by mistake.  I think he was also the man who tasted one of the carrots to see if it was done, then put the other half back on the plate he presented to Gregg and John, complete with teethmarks.
  • the Australian investment banker who wore very short shorts but cooked amazingly inventive dishes with ingredients you’d never have thought to put together.
  • seeing Matt, Christopher and Chris in the semi-final, and seeing how well they’ve learnt during the series – sad to see Chris go before the final and Andy stay; not quite so keen on him.

I’ve thought that the 2 1/2 hours of TV a week was perhaps only worth 1 1/2 hours worth of watching.  But as ever, the semi-final has got me all excited again, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final this week!

42/365 Phoebe meets herself!  Only a quick snap as I’d been at work for 12 hours and still had more to do that evening.

42/365 MetaPhoebe

43/365 A new day dawns. Rooftop sunrise over St Paul’s Cathedral.

43/365 A new day dawns

44/365 Gantry. In Wandsworth to pick up Sarah’s Valentine’s day cupcakes.

44/365 Gantry

45/365 Cupcakes. A success!  The cupcakes which I got Sarah for Valentine’s day came from the wonderful Crumbs and Doilies.

And if you want to see self-same cupcakes…

Cupcakes Cupcakes
Cupcakes Cupcakes
Cupcakes Cupcakes

46/365 For me? Finally, there were some Valentine’s roses as well.  But someone thinks they were actually for her!

46/365 For me?

25/365 Wine

Just that, really.   I need to try this one again lining the shot up more carefully; there’s a little distortion that needs correcting but I’d rather try and do that with a different lens.

Technical notes:

Nikon D90 Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX @ 65mm. 1/60@ f/14 ISO 200 with built-in flash at –1 EV.

CIMG0769 Saturday was time for part 2 of the birthday celebrations.  We met up with some of my pals for an evening at Cosa Nostra.  As ever, the food was great, the atmosphere relaxed (you never seem to be waiting too long for your food, yet you never seem rushed either) and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Oh, and they also were happy to let Sarah bring my surprise cake for us to have as desert, rather than having theirs.   Yes, my lovely wife had used the time I was away in Brussels to make a scrummy chocolaty fudgy cake which we all tucked into after our pizza or pasta.  I am so lucky!


22/365 Light refreshment

An equally busy day – office in the morning, Eurostar to Brussels in the afternoon, meeting at dinner in the evening.  Brussels was cold and wet, so little chance to get out with the camera.   But a glass of Eurostar’s champagne caught the light nicely (somewhere betwixt Ebbsfleet and Ashford), and here it is.

Technical notes:

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX @82mm. 1/400 @ f/5.0 ISO 800. No flash so as not to annoy my fellow passengers.

15/365 Marmalade

Not quite as set as I’d like. But other than that, it’s tasty, tangy and good (in my humble opinion, anyway).   The dark colour is due to using demerara sugar rather than ordinary white sugar.

Technical notes:

Nikon D90. Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF. Built-in flash. 1/60 at f/11 ISO 200