Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Four things we learnt from Nick’s 40th birthday party

Saturday, February 17th, 2018 | Friends

Earlier this month we trekked down to Huddersfield for a surprise party of my friend, and former boss, Nick. Here are four things we learnt…

Karaoke bands are a thing

You can have a band that turn up and play backing music while you sing along to lyrics from an iPad mounted on a mic stand. What an awesome idea.

A great find by party organiser Lee-Anne. She booked them after being impressed by a gig they did in Manchester. And had the heart to stick with them even after they politely told her that they have never played in Manchester and she must be confusing them with a different band.

Star Wars-themed does not automatically mean fancy dress

In my defence, I was assuming Elina would choose the white robe outfit. It was 100% her that assumed I would want her to go in a golden bikini. Which is not true, because finding a Jabba the Hutt costume is both expensive and difficult.

Venla likes to fight stormtroopers

Especially if they are inflatable and easy to push over.

John Smith’s Stadium is quite nice

Everyone knows that you burn calories just by being in a sports venue, even if you are just there to consume alcohol, buffet food and some kind of delicious chocolate ganache tartlet.

New Year’s Eve 2017

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 | Friends

We rang in the new year with our customary house party. Our 10th annual one, as it happens.

I don’t have a group picture this year. I didn’t have one for the Manchester trip, either. All of this living in the moment nonsense is really damaging the quality of my blog. I knew that trying to enjoy life was going to end badly, one way or another.

This year, the three of us were joined by Norman, Chris, Cara, Lauren, Gabriele, Tim and Kearny.

Last year, we made a series of predictions for the year ahead. Most of them we were incorrect about. But a good ones: there was a general election (Cara) and the Patriots did win the Super Bowl (Norman). We’ve now made a fresh set for 2018.

Trip to Manchester

Sunday, January 7th, 2018 | Friends

On the last Saturday of 2017, we headed over to Manchester to see Michelle. She was stopping there on her way back to China. I don’t have a photo from the event, so here is a stock image.

It went well. The trains ran on time and Venla was reasonably well behaved. She had a lot of fun shuffling around Manchester Piccadilly station but was not a happy baby when I told her shuffling time was over.

Most of all, it’s nice to spend time with old friends and that while life circumstances and locations may change, the things you love about each other never do.

We had lunch at a place called LEAF. It was very good; recommended if you’re in the area.

Christmas Eve Eve Eve

Friday, December 29th, 2017 | Friends

To celebrate Christmas Eve Eve Eve, we got together with the Sheridans for a meal.

It was interesting to see Venla interacting with Kearny. They didn’t really play together because they are still too young for that. However, they did spark off each other. There was a lot of squealing and looking at each other.

My brioche turned out quite well. A little overbaked due to running around after Venla, but otherwise fine.

New Year’s Eve 2016

Thursday, January 5th, 2017 | Friends

It is hard to believe that this is the 9th year we have run a New Year’s Eve party. Luckily, the new additions to the circle have not detracted from the atmosphere. As ever, it was a pleasure to catch up with friends: new and old, near and far. It even featured a Skype call from Dr Murray who is beavering away with research projects in South Korea.

The food was popular. It appeared that we would have too much of it when we first started. However, by the end of the evening, a valiant attempt had been made to get through it all. There were plenty of desserts left over. This has worked out well: we’re still eating most of the cake people brought.

Despite the party going on until just after 3am, I still managed to make it up in time for the New Year’s Day Parkrun. The benefits of having a human alarm clock. NYD is a special day in the Parkrun calendar: it is the only day when you are allowed to compete in multiple events. Because of this, Leeds stagger their runs: 9am for Woodhouse Moor and 10:30 for Temple Newsam.

That represents my 98th and 99th Parkrun: next week, the big 100.

After that it was onwards to Miller & Carter for recovery steak. There I immediately piled into my body all of the calories I had just burned off. Venla was less happy here: a new year’s hangover will do that to a baby.

Next year is our tenth anniversary, and I have something rather special planned…

Gabriele’s birthday

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 | Friends

tgi-fridays

Do not tell TGI Friday’s know it is your birthday. They will make a lot of noise.

Anglesey Come Dine With Me

Monday, August 15th, 2016 | Food, Friends

anglesey-bread

For our holiday in Anglesey, Norman suggested that we take it in turns to cook dinner. This soon turned into a Come Dine With Me style event with teams and menus. Though I will add that we stopped short of scoring!

Sunday

Chris & Cara kicked us off. The starter was roasted tomatoes and honey-and-breadcrumbed butternut squash. This was amazing. Delicately roasting these produces fantastic results. I might have to steal the idea for our next party. The bulgur wheat was also good.

The main could have been better. You might think it was the high level of intoxication that let Chris down, but the biggest problem was that we couldn’t find any fresh fish on Anglesey! The only thing the island seemed to have was frozen cod fillets, that did not defrost in time. The homemade tartar with dill was very good.

Monday

Kieran & Shweta took day two. I might be doing Shweta an injustice by suggesting they were a team of two (or maybe not). She cooked up a kedgeree. Mine have always come out rather soggy, but this suffered no such problems. They even had a paired champagne to serve with it.

Tuesday

Elina and I tackled day three. We started with a hot and sour prawn soup served with a variety of breads and prawn crackers. For the main we did black bean chilli in sweet potato skins and citrous-soy marinated fish with a side of spicy blackberry chutney and cashew nut salad. Finally we finished off with Swedish super-gooey chocolate cake served with homemade ice cream and a sprig of mint.

Wednesday

Wales as shut while everyone watched the football.

Thursday

Norman and Tom took to the stage for the final entry. They slow-roasted a harissa-spiced lamb over the barbecue and served it with cous cous and roasted vegetables. This was all complemented with a yogurt sauce. Dessert was baked apples.

Anglesey

Saturday, August 13th, 2016 | Friends, Travel

anglesey-panorama

For this year’s group trip, we headed to the north coast of Anglesey where we had a villa booked in Cemaes Bay. As you can see from the photo above it is a beautiful location and the villa was situated right on the coastal path. A short walk down from there and you could find the nuclear power plant.

power-plant

Unfortunately, they did not have a visitor’s cafe. Local attractions were not that important though: we were mostly interested in the hot tub. The weather was good for us and after an entire day of drinking in said hot tub, pretty much everyone except Elina and I were horribly sunburnt.

beer-bottles

Not a bad effort for the first 24 hours we were there. The rest of the week consisted of barbecuing, more hot tub time, and occasionally going to the pub.

bbq-lunch

We also had a look round Beaumaris Castle.

Beaumaris-Castle

As ever, it was a super chance to catch up with friends that we see too infrequently. Roll on 2017…

group-photo

Dinner and Mario Kart

Friday, August 12th, 2016 | Friends

mariokart

Last month we met up with Craig, Zoe, Becky and Charlotte for some food at Cattle Grid. In a surprise twist, I had the ribs (to be fair, I did once get the steak. It was lovely to catch up with everyone, not to mention the generous baby gifts we received, including a little Superman outfit, complete with cape!

Afterwards we headed to BrewDog for a drink, and found that they had a GameCube with Mario Kart on. How I have missed that game. I am sure that if I actually had it, I would get bored of it pretty quickly. But the memories soon came flooding back as we dodged sand worms, bowser shells and banana skins. Maybe I should buy the baby a GameCube now, in case they stop selling them…

Harrogate pubs

Friday, June 3rd, 2016 | Friends

A few years ago, while I was working up in Harrogate, my friend Alan and I refined the art of pub lunch. At Buzz, Jason and I achieved pub week, which was no mean feet. However, we could only dream of the system Alan and I put in place. Sometimes with other colleagues, sometimes not, we got it down to a schedule.

Day Pub Notes
Monday Smiths Arms Nice way to start the week. Food was okay. Mostly, it was close.
Tuesday Squinting Cat Quiet, plenty of tables, big range of food and the barman was a character.
Wednesday Black Swan, Fat Badger Usally Black Swan, but occasionally we would drive into the centre for the Fat Badger.
Thursday Old Spring Well, Pine Martin Good specials, though roadworks severely hampered our journey times, in which case we would fall back to the Pine Martin.
Friday Square & Compass Bit of a drive to North Rigton, but worth it for the food.

This went on for months. We managed two team lunches in my current team this week. That was great, but I can only dream of the glory days…

old-spring-well