Sunday, 18 November 2012

Flying High...

Phew - what a weekend! Packed full of fun and entertainment, for surprisingly little dosh, which is always a winner!

First off yesterday - an early kick off for the boys down at the rugby club. Just a friendly match but hard-fought against local rivals Bishops Stortford, a team playing in a league of a substantially higher level than ours, who started the first half by banging in three tries in the first ten minutes. Not quite the start we'd planned. We blamed the early start as frankly it appeared that some of our boys were still asleep! Thankfully they woke up quite fast after that and it all started coming together, helped along by the opposition insisting on chatting-back at the ref, who didn't like it, so after warning them several times he helpfully sin-binned the worst offender for ten minutes. Good job that doesn't happen in football or the fans would be watching an empty pitch while all the players sat on the bench!

That's going to hurt....
End result was a narrow win by 6 points to our Harlow boys and our unbeaten run continues. We're under no illusion that we're likely to go through the season without losing any matches - nice as that would be - but it's doing wonder for morale at the moment. My morale wasn't so great after the match though as in the course of 80 minutes I'd seen my beloved Canon 40D stop working altogether and my 70-200mm lens playing up too. Thankfully I always carry a spare camera body in the bag in any case, so I was able to switch to that, and the lens problem, while annoying, wasn't insurmountable. The 40D will be heading off to canon shortly for what I hope won't be too high a repair cost. My good pro-photographer pal has always impressed on me the importance of having gear in reserve "just in case" and yesterday his point was proved, in spades. Thanks Steve!

I think the chappy in blue might appreciate some help.....
Anyhow, victory secured, it was off to the clubhouse to watch England fail to beat the Aussies - a good match but disappointing result, especially because for the first 20 minutes or so we looked by far the better team. Oh well, it could be worse, we could be Wales, who got beaten by Samoa the night before, or indeed Scotland, who get beaten by pretty much everyone......

On to today then - a lovely bright day, albeit quite crisp and cold - Autumn with a distinct nip of Winter! This afternoon we were expected in Balham for a friends birthday bash but as we were going into London anyway we decided to make the most of the train tickets by heading in early and taking a ride on the still quite new London Cablecar across the Thames. What a ludicrous idea this is - I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the planning meeting when the idea was first voiced...!

 It is truly bonkers, made all the madder by being reached on the North side by that other bonkers mode of London transport, the Docklands Light Railway - aka the best low budget theme park inside the M25.  The ultimate prize when riding the DLR is to get one of the coveted front or back seats - allowing an uninterrupted view along the track and some rather alarming sensations when cornering. It's not just kids desperate to sit in these either - when we alighted today our seat was instantly grabbed by two adults with not a tot in sight!

Excel Centre & Royal Docks
 Initially I think a lot of people expected the cablecar to be horrendously expensive - the sort of thing that your average family could go and look at, and maybe travel on once as a treat, but nothing more. In fact nothing could be further from the truth - our fare across today, using a Pay As You Go Oyster Card, cost just £3.20 each. A family of four, Mum, Dad and two kids can cross for under £10 - less if the littlies are under 5 as they then travel free. The views are comparable - if not better than - those from the London Eye, although of course the crossing takes only 5 minutes as against the 30 minutes the Eye takes to do a full revolution.

Air Line Southbound looking back towards the Royal Docks

We crossed from North to South - Royal Victoria Dock to North Greenwich, meaning the Millennium Dome was just down to my right, and the Thames Flood barrier to my left. Although the cabins can accomodate up to ten people I should imagine that would be a bit of a squeeze - they were putting a maximum of eight in today. We were lucky, being the first to board our cabin and then being joined by a family of Mum, dad and thee small children, all of whom were wildly excited at the idea of crossing so high above the river, and by half way across were asking if they could do it again!

The Dome & the City of London beyond
Having come back to earth - literally - it was time to head further south to join friend B in celebrating her 50th birthday - the venue was a lovely little Moroccan restaurant just a short distance from her flat, our party had a whole section of the restaurant and B had brought in masses of wine and beer (the restaurant is not licensed, but allows you to bring in your own bottles at no charge) and had arranged food for everyone too - we had assumed it was going to be a meal with everyone splitting the cost at the end, but B very kindly picked up the tab for the whole thing which was a lovely surprise. The food was stunning - mixed starters with traditional breads, dips, houmous and little filo parcels filled with meat or vegetables, followed by a main course of the restaurant's signature Tagines - I had lamb and it was positively falling off the bone and cooked to perfection. I was utterly stuffed at the end, but in a good way! The place itself had a marvellous atmosphere, with stacks of character and some of the most amazing lampshades you can imagine - blown or twisted glass in all manner of shapes and colours - I did try take some photos but they're not good enough to use, annoyingly - you will just have to imagine! There was much chat with old friends, and some new acquaintances too, and most importantly B had a great time too!

All in all a great weekend - although I think we'll both benefit from getting back to our respective workplaces for a rest tomorrow!



Anonymous said...

Right, that is going to the top of my list. And this morrocan restaurant is where did you say?

Robyn said...

Balham - it's called Tagine (Imaginative huh!) - well worth a visit, and as for the cablecar, well, what more can I say!