liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
I've had a couple of weeks of eating lots of tasty food, doing particularly well with Chinese, and in the company of excellent people.

Last weekend I made it to London to see [personal profile] doseybat and [livejournal.com profile] pplfichi. We met up for dim sum at the ever wonderful Joy King Lau. It turns out that butter ma lai ko, listed as a vegetarian dim sum option, is actually a plain sponge cake. It's a bit culturally narrow-minded of me, but for me sponge cake is a dessert, not a vegetarian dish, and even as dessert it's only interesting with some kind of sauce or icing. But never mind, we'll know another time. Anyway we moved back to their place once we couldn't fit in another crumb, and chatted all afternoon about work stuff and wrangling relationships between partners and parents and all the good things that go with having quite parallel life experiences.

In the evening I went to Brighton for Screwy's "fractions" party. The journey was awful due to bustitutes, but the party was as delightful as ever. They had a sign on the door Now is the winter of our discotheque, and people had very cool takes on the fractions theme. The best costume was a couple who came as "two t'irds", wearing matching poo necklaces... I know quite a lot of my brother's friends, others were excited to meet the sister they've heard so much about, but I did meet one person who asked, "So, how do you know [Screwy], then?" and was very surprised when I said we are brother and sister. P'tite Soeur had made the party snacks so they were very classy, and kindly provided me with a bed for the night because I don't have the stamina to stay at parties that go on until well after dawn.

We had a late and leisurely breakfast on the Sunday including my sister's homemade jam, and agreed with Screwy to go out for Sunday lunch since nobody felt like cooking at that point. Unfortunately almost every central Brighton pub or eatery was chock-full, and with a wheelchair user in the party you can't really squeeze in to a little nook or use the overflow rooms that are often in the basement or upstairs even if the main body of the pub is technically accessible. We ended up at about the sixth place we tried, the Brunswick. Which is a pleasant enough free house, nice atmosphere, selection of real ales, but the service was really atrocious. We complained to the bar after we had waited an hour for our order, and they kindly refunded us £15, but that doesn't go very far between 6 people. The roasts when they eventually arrived were fairly high quality, with some interesting but not overly quirky takes on the traditional trimmings, but not really exciting and also not piping hot. In spite of that I enjoyed catching up with my brother and sister (you can't really have a proper conversation in the middle of a party) and P'tite Soeur's partner and Screwy's housemate and his partner.

During the week I got in late and wanted to get takeaway; rather than using my usual default Chinese place I took the plunge and signed up for Just Eat. This allowed me to order from Furama Palace which turned out to be head and shoulders above a typical takeaway and not noticeably more expensive. I had a really tasty side dish with interesting mushrooms and asparagus, and the tofu-based main dish had fresh rather than deep-fried tofu and tasted of fresh ingredients rather than generic takeaway sauce. So I'm definitely planning to order from there again.

Then at the weekend I dragged myself out of bed early enough to go to shul in Manchester. Which meant I got to hear the rare shalshelet note that marks Joseph's refusal to sleep with Potiphar's wife as wavering. As well as being a fun thing to be in shul for, that felt topical in my life because I have been wavering about an offer I should really refuse recently. Also R' Silverman's sermon was erudite and interesting; he talked about the history and traditions of the Karaites, and pointed out something that I hadn't really twigged before, that both the Karaites and the Gaonim were active in 8th century Iran and were reacting to the spread of Islam through the region. Indeed the etymology of Karaite (people who read the Bible literally and don't accept any of the later commentaries and traditions) is the same as that of the Koran (which is more obvious if I transliterate it the old fashioned way, with ق as k rather than q).

As is my usual tradition I went out for lunch in Chinatown. This time I picked Hunan Restaurant because I hoped that a regionally specific place would offer something different from run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants. It was indeed different and interesting and good quality, relatively inexpensive food. I ordered from their prix fixe menu, and it turned out that Hunan is one of those places where the portions are smaller than when you order à la carte. But still very tasty and I was by no means hungry at the end of the meal! The people at the table next to me were eating a hotpot, with a giant vat of boiling oil and spices in the middle of the table, and a selection of meats and tofu and vegetables to cook in it, sort of like a fondue. Which made me want to go back there with a big enough group of people to try a veggie version of that.

I then met up with the lovely [personal profile] syllopsium for tea at The Molly House. [personal profile] syllopsium is someone I've been meaning to make plans with all year and this is the first time in 2013 (!) we've both had a free weekend! Anyway The Molly House is just gorgeous, it's a pub that is equally excited about a range of fancy teas as its very extensive range of beers, including some interesting continental ones. It's also (at least in the early part of the evening while we were there) full of people of all genders and gender combinations having civilized conversations, rather than listening to loud music and looking for hookups. I am definitely going back there next time I want to go out for a drink in Manchester. I ended up alternating between pots of tea and mulled cider, and enjoyed a long catchup conversation about every possible topic, which continued when we moved on to Tampopo for yet more tasty Asian food.

We got up a bit later than we planned on Sunday, which meant we didn't have that much time for our planned hike before running out of daylight. Still, [personal profile] syllopsium picked a really excellent place for a walk, the woods and reservoir in the Tockholes area, one of those amazingly beautiful places that exist between Manchester and the Lake District proper. It was lovely in with the last of the autumn colours, but the trees bare enough to look out over vistas of stark, rocky hills. Now that I'm fit enough to manage that sort of walk, on paths but over fairly rough, fairly hilly terrain, I found that my muscles got pretty tired because I wasn't stopping frequently to get my breath back. But it was really exhilarating, walking through this beautiful forest and having a good conversation, and ending up really quite pleasantly achey.

[personal profile] swaldman made a very good point about Clovember:
I'm not especially interested in what my friends are wearing either. However, the idea has encouraged a number of my friends, some of whom had nearly-dormant blogs, to actually post frequently. Most are talking not just about what they are wearing, but about their daily life. And I like this!
I haven't been participating in Clovember, partly because I haven't actually figured out how to take selfies, and partly because I'm nervous about the cutting edge of facial recognition technology and worry that having photos of me here would help search engines to link my DW to my offline identity. But I am definitely appreciating seeing posts about people's daily lives, the kind of stuff that's mostly moved to FB these days. Which in turn encouraged me that it's worth making this post, even though it's mostly about how I've been spending my weekends lately.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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