Monday, January 25, 2010

The Best of Barking (2)

Built in the 16th Century Eastbury Manor is our very own listed, National Trust property (and it's just a five minute walk from my flat). Things to love about it: the wonderful exterior, the oak turret stairs and the magnificent fireplaces. (You could roast a whole human let alone a pig in the fireplace in the tearoom).

Intriguingly, Daniel Defoe wrote in 1726 "a little beyond the town [Barking], on the road to Dagenham, stood a great house, ancient and now almost fallen down, where tradition says the Gunpowder Plot was at first contrived and that all the first consultations about it were held here". There's absolutely no evidence to support this and the idea is commonly attributed to local myth but I quite like it!

Links: London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

National Trust

The Best of Barking (1)

Barking doesn't fare well in the national news. Nick Griffin, BNP, wants to be our MP; we have the fifth worst train station in the country, and just recently Sukhwinder Singh was murdered trying to stop muggers snatching a woman's bag.

Childhood memories of Barking are linked to Nanny Barking (to distinguish her from Nanny Romford). Technically she isn't my nan at all but my cousins'. We call her nanny all the same. She is an East African Indian who likes nothing better than to cook a (vegetarian, if not vegan) feast for as many visitors as possible despite her ageing years. We recently introduced her to Isabella; she was in her element cooking for one of her sons, two grandchildren, two honorary grandchildren (C and I) and a great granddaughter. We left with three of the biggest red eating apples I have ever seen. Giving fruit after a birth is apparently a tradition in Sikh cultures.

We've lived here, by accident rather than design, for the last six years and I've grown attached to the place. When our house purchase eventually goes through (five months and counting) we'll be moving a little to the west to Dagenham. I thought I'd share what Barking means to me.

This is my brand-spanking new allotment plot complete with shed, compost heap, water butt, bean canes and a cherry tree. I have been granted one month to clear it for planting. (It seems the weather isn't taken into account; no fairweather gardeners here). And how long did I have to wait for a vacant plot? Certainly not the average three years or Camden's forty (!) but three months.

Links: allotments in Barking and Dagenham

Sundays are good for...

roast dinners in the pub (with your daughter balanced on one knee and an old boy downing pints of bitter minding your pram) and a walk by the sea. (Or estuary mud; the sea was nowhere to be seen).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Week in Dinners

Thursday: roast root veg with chicken thighs
Friday: lamb shanks with lemon and swede with mustard mash
Saturday: belly pork strips in barbecue sauce
Sunday: parsnips with sausage
Monday: swede and potato cake
Tuesday: pasta with tomato sauce and olives

I'm just trying to work out with this week's weather-hit assortment. What the hell do I do with radishes?!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cabin Fever

Snow + ice + pram doesn't make for a winning combination.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Let it snow!

Today's blizzard as forecast by the Met Office did not materialise. I, for one, am quite happy.

I spent yesterday baking for my nephew's first birthday. Had we not made it to my sister's we'd have been eating quiche, cheese scones and cherry and almond traybake morning, noon and night for at least a week.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Sign of the times?

The meat in the Ilford Marks and Spencers is security tagged.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

What I've read this week

All very different, all very good...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Overheard in Barking

Two women blocking the path outside the Tesco Express. One has a toddler in a puschair.

"I said to 'er, I ain't 'aving my throat slit in front of my girl".

So, you would if your daughter weren't present?

Pink Stinks

My mum and sister were excitedly showing me a pink wooden pram advertised in a woman's magazine. "Divine," they cooed.

I raised my eyebrows, wrinkled my nose and turned my mouth up at the corners.

"You're going to have a funny kind of girl," declared the little sis.

When pregnant the only thing putting me off having a girl was indeed the colour pink. It was the visit to Mothercare that did it. (About two weeks before I was due; I believe in leaving everything to the last minute). I felt physically sick. I stood in the middle of Oxford Street on the phone to C. hysterically voicing my concerns should we have a girl; I would not be able to cope with all things pink.

With the exception of a couple of far-flung great aunts the message, shouted loud and clear at every opportunity, seems to have filtered through. No-one who has been in actual contact with me since Isabella's birth has bought us anything pink. My brother went so far as to use a lack of choice as his excuse for visiting empty-handed and a friend kindly wrapped her present in blue paper.

"Pink stinks," giggled my my mum. "I said to your father 'I bet Emma's got something to do with this'". I had to admit I didn't know what she was talking about.

A quick look on the internet had me rejoicing (and only slightly sad that I wasn't behind it): Pink officially stinks here.