Many apologies to our faithful readers for our uncharacteristically long silence! Life has been been busy here in S'Bush, what with wrapping up work in the archives, tying up loose ends at Imperial College, and trying to determine the very cheapest way to travel to eight different countries in the next five months (we'll keep you posted)! Plus, we had an unexpected visitor: Tam's brother Charley decided that he should seize the opportunity to visit London while our tiny loft was still available. So, we set ourselves and our friends to squiring him around town and making sure he met all the cute Commonwealthers at our local pub, the Crown and Sceptre, as well as introducing him to the gastronomical and other wonders of London ...
March has been doing its whole in-like-a-sneaky-lion thing, with cold and windy downpours that blow up just as the crocuses have lulled you into complacency and you've forgotten your umbrella or ordered your coffee to go. We've been looking longingly at the photos of sun, sea, mountain and desert in our recently acquired guidebooks for Greece, Egypt and Jordan. On Saturday, though, we had an unexpected respite: a beautiful, sunny and even reasonably warm day. So, with Charley, we hopped the bus to Oxford and wandered the cobbled streets, strolled through the Fellows' Gardens at Magdalen, soaked up the sun, sniffed the daffodils and imbibed a little real ale, along with the smoke and heady conversation that characterizes such Oxford institutions as the Bear, the Turf and the Eagle and Child (known to faithful customers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as the "Bird and Baby").
As the lunar eclipse cast an eerie red glow on the kebab vans that unaccountably line the streets of Oxford after dark, we boarded the bus for an intense bout of Travel Scrabble on the way home. (Laura is the reigning champion, in case you had any doubt. Her master-stroke was the brilliant placement of the seven-letter "fiction" on a triple word score, clinching her glorious victory. Yay!)
Other highlights have included Monday night gastropub crawls with our indefatigable academic friend John (including soft-boiled quail eggs and rhubarb fool at Portobello Road's hip Fat Badger, and a tour of hard-to-find pubs in Kensington and Knightsbridge like the Nags Head, the Grenadier and the Swag and Tails); opening night at the Royal Shakespeare Company's new production of The Tempest, with Patrick Stewart's Prospero stranded in a modernist arctic landscape; cocktails in the Knight Bar at Simpson's on the Strand; a fine showing at last week's black-tie Oscars-themed pub quiz; a boat trip down the Thames and a trip to Greenwich with the staff from the Crown and Sceptre, complete with funny hats and permanent marker mustaches (no pictures survive, thank goodness). At last count, in his six days in London, Charley tried over twenty-four ales - some more than once. We're not sure if that's connoisseurship or overambition!