Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On London (Part II). And on the Loddon.

I got a bit carried away with that last London post, didn't I. All I had actually wanted to say was just that a couple of weeks ago (or, rather, a month ago now), I went back to England and I had a lovely time.

B and I spent 10 days with my family - not just my folks but also my sister and her family who were visiting from California. It was pretty chaotic: my nearly-5-year-old nephew spent most of the week hopping about in a yellow bird outfit my sister had once worn ("I want to fly"); and my 3-year-old-niece trotted around after Uncle B adoringly, giving him cuddles and then telling him he needed a shave. We ate hunk of roasted meat after hunk of roasted meat (and a vast quantity of Yorkshire pudding with it) and drank gallons of tea and wine with various additional visiting relatives including my fabulous 92 year old grandmother, who continues to be brighter and sharper and better dressed than the rest of us put together.

B and I spent the weekend seeing as many of my friends as possible. Being apart from the people I love is the only thing I regret about leaving the UK and I miss them all dreadfully. We spent an evening drinking heavenly Sybille Kuntz Riesling and snacking on prawn tempura at a friend's (truly excellent) Japanese/sushi restaurant Tsuru before wandering to Hackney (which looked still a little fragile after the riots) to gorge ourselves on a whole butterflied leg of lamb that her girlfriend had deftly barbecued in that nonchalant way that only Australians can deftly barbecue whole butterflied legs of lamb. We lounged about in the Saturday sunshine at Borough Market; and spent the rest of the weekend in various North London pubs drinking ale and Bloody Marys and eating crisps and Scotch eggs (note for those unaware: Germany doesn't really do crisps). We were also treated to a breakfast of home-made vanilla and almond scones; that friend gets extra points. I also had the pleasure of meeting the Wine Rambler, who is not only a veritable wine encyclopaedia but a gentleman with it, by which I mean he didn't choke on his spaghetti when I mentioned how I'm partial to a white wine spritzer.
Scotch eggs: oh, little crispy, porky, eggy ball of joy, how I miss thee.
With apologies to my vegetarian readers: LOOK AT THAT!! IT'S A WHOLE BARBECUED LEG OF LAMB!!
I love my friends. And I love my friends' scones.
We also spent a day with my dad on the bank of the river Loddon, near Basingstoke, attempting to fly-fish for trout. My father has been asking me for years to join him and I can only hope that he wasn't wildly disappointed by the fact that I was so terrified by the line whipping about me as I attempted to cast that my fly-fishing experience lasted all of about 15 seconds; and that all that B managed to catch was his own ear. B and I thus took ourselves off to have a staring match with a herd of cows before settling down in a little hut with a bottle of wine and the weekend papers. My brother-in-law, meanwhile, wandered diligently up and down the river with his rod all day; and my aunt spent most of the afternoon trying to untangle her line from various trees whilst her husband sat with a small picnic and a book as far away from the rest of us as possible. Dad, in the meantime, caught two.
I love cows. The feeling is apparently mutual.
My father in action. (If I'm honest, I thought he looked more war correspondent than angling pro, but what do I know about fishing fashion?)
So, how was it, then, England, this time? Well, apart from food heaven, it was very peculiar being able to understand everyone without having to ask them to repeat themselves three times. And as Resident on Earth so eloquently described, arriving at Heathrow was a bit of an assault to the senses: everything was so incessantly loud and omnipresent. It was only sitting on the 90 minute bus ride home from the airport at Christmas that I appreciated for the first time how much more pleasant it is so live somewhere where you don't understand every word that's being said on public transport. I also kept catching myself rehearsing conversations in German before I approached anyone I didn't know.

I realised that I miss more about England than just my family and friends (for example, existing alongside people who, largely speaking, KNOW HOW TO QUEUE. AND DON'T JUST RUDDY PUSH IN, EVEN IF THEY ARE UNDER MASSIVE TIME PRESSURE BECAUSE THEY'RE DELIVERING HUMAN CELLS IN A SPECIAL SILVER BOX TO SOMEONE WHO'S LIFE DEPENDS ON IT)(we had a bad time at passport control when we got back; good grief I hate Frankfurt airport) but found myself getting hugely irritated by the absence of the little things make the German way of life seem so much more efficient (buses that adhere to their timetables; being able to pay separately in restaurants without the waitress looking at you as if you'd asked for a ticket to the moon) but although some things felt a bit alien to me (like that big flappy money), although I feel I have adjusted to a slightly different way of life, I didn't feel foreign. I'm not sure you can in London. But I suppose that's what surprised me the most: that I feel so totally comfortable and completely settled in two different countries.

Anyway, having departed late from a wet, miserable Heathrow and endured another very bumpy flight back to Frankfurt, B and I arrived to discover that summer had finally made it to Hessen. Better late than never: it was all blue skies, bright sunshine - in fact, 34 degrees at 7 in the evening. Which made it even lovelier to be... home.


Morgenmuffel said...

Those scotch eggs look soooo good! I was a bit disappointed not to see a picture of the yellow bird outfit, sounds fab :D

otomcio said...

Damn, that food looks good!!!

Did he really catch his ear!? Ouch!

fiona said...

I licked the screen. I couldn't stop myself. What lovely photos.

Emma said...

I am very jealous of the scotched eggs. My other half is very jealous of the fly fishing! Such a beautiful area, and I adore your cow picture! Sounds like you had a great time! Emma :)

Frau Dietz said...

Haha, hello Scotch egg fan club!!

@Morgenmuffel: it was AMAZING - a little yellow felt leotard with huge flappy netting for arms and a big poofy netting tail behind. I think he has a future in drag.

@Otomcio: yes, he really did. Mega ouch.

@Fiona: hahaha... thanks! Now wipe it off.

@Emma: We did, and thanks, I loved those cows :) I will have to pop a stamp on a Scotch Egg for you next time I'm over ;)

ianandebe said...

Awww FOOOD! Looks utterly, jaw-dropping, mouth-watering delicious. England sounds nice too.

Sabrina said...

Ooooh! Those eggs wrapped in meat (?)look delicious!! I'm not surprised though... after spending a week in London in August, I'm now writing a post on how much I enjoyed the food - contrary to the popular belief that English food is terrible :) I loved it!

cliff1976 said...

Please count me in as a member of the Scotch Egg Fan Club — and of your other food pics too!

Bring some with you to WEBMU 2011 in Cologne to share? *hoping*hoping*hoping*

The Wine Rambler said...

"Gentleman", hm, I am not sure. The spaghetti were cut into bits too small to properly choke on - and this was because I, the gentleman, had taken Frau Dietz to a university canteen. I am sure your readers can draw their own conclusions from this...

Anyway, it was a pleasure meeting you!

Frau Dietz said...

@ianandebe: oh it was :) all of it!

@Sabrina: Eggs wrapped in meat is pretty much well exactly what they are - although somehow that description doesn't do them justice ;) Am heading over to your blog to find that post this instant!

@cliff1976: if I could somehow facilitate that, if I could bring some back from London and know they'd still be perfection... oh I would!!

@thewinerambler: hahaha... so humble ;) It was lovely to meet you too :)