Tag Archives: southampton

Food, cats, more food, more cats.

Yesterday we walked up to Wickes to find out about bathrooms (spoiler; they’re pricey) and had a lovely meal at Steak Bar, the little eatery attached to Uptons of Basset. They’re a Slovakian style butcher (I don’t know exactly how that differs from a British butcher) with lots of lovely things I had to restrain myself from purchasing. We shared the Butcher’s Block, which had pork pie, brie and stilton cheese, sliced meats, piccalilly, lovely bread, some pickled onions that actually tasted nice (!!!!), and Scotch eggs with runny yolks. Nom.

In the evening we caught up on The Good Place and I even got some reading time in. I’m really enjoying The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow, author of this year’s wonderful short story Hugo winner A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies.

Today we walked down to God’s House Tower for their official opening weekend celebrations, which featured singers and dancers from Art Asia. We had some really nice sandwiches from Hoxton’s and generally enjoyed the vibe. They also do a three month Tower pass that is only £5 for a tour and access to all the exhibits, but we decided to come back with more time to enjoy it properly.

The wind had picked up when we left and the day gone from lovely and crisp to finger numbingly cold, so I was happy to get back home even if there were still chores to do. Michael came over but my grumpy tired ass retired to do fanac and pet cats, leaving him and John to play board games until dinner time, when we watched an episode of The Expanse, in which Shit is Getting Real for the crew of the Roci, and everyone else too really.

And that was the weekend.

Treats, mostly

Hot damn, it’s almost Halloween! (Guess who forgot to post her draft!?)

Inktober got rudely shoved aside so I could get art ready for World Fantasy. John helpfully worked around me as I buckled down and spent most of the month working on that, and I’m reasonably happy with the results. Next up is Novacon, which I’ll do regular 2D pieces for, as much for the variety as for the feeling that November isn’t really folding fan season.

We managed to get some fun in before and after I disappeared into all-fans-all-the-time; firstly we went up to Bristol to visit John’s friend Tony for the weekend. It was a nice weekend, a bit rainy but not too bad, and we played some boardgames in between exploring the city. We started off strong with a  burger at Three Brothers Burgers and a wander through the market, then went up to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, which has my second favourite version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, by Frank Dicksee. There is a bunch of other cool stuff there, ranging from local history (lots of lovely glass) to an Ai Wei Wei piece. On the Sunday we had breakfast at a place called Boston Tea Party, which for some reason really reminded me of the places I used to get breakfast back in the nineties in Lower Haight. We did some more wandering and saw the statue to Cary Grant, a Banksy, and the waterfront.

The next two weeks are a fugue of course, but then I packed up the box to ship off and I was free! And just in time too, because it was Tobes visit weekend. His plane was delayed, but finally arrived late morning. We fed him some espresso and then started an epic beer crawl through Southampton. We aimed for Unity to start but it was raining and there are two pubs on the way, so we stopped at the South Western and the Junction Inn before braving the walk along the river to get to Unity. The last bit was a bit muddy but we managed it and rewarded ourselves with pork bao buns from the Demaine Artisan food truck outside, plus of course beer. Out next stop was across the Itchen for a half pint at Paddle and Peel, followed by one last drink at the Butcher’s Hook before going home to dry our socks, have a coffee, and catch the train to Woolston where we crammed into Olaf’s Tun and ordered pizzas from Spitfire up the street.  

All of which was a prelude to the Woolston Craft Beer Festival! We didn’t know what to expect, Woolston is not large and it was in the local hall. But it was well supplied and busy, and we had a lovely few hours happily trying out beers, plus Bark and Brisket were there serving food so we had a late dinner of pork baps.

Weekends!

The last few weekends we’ve stayed in Southampton, but managed to have nice mini-adventures regardless.

The last weekend in August Michael came over and we wandered across the bridge to Riverside Park and Trifest, a new crowdsourced neighbourhood festival. We arrived pretty late in the day, so we missed the food, and it was pretty small, but for a first year crowdsourced event it was solid, with musicians all day and some local arts and crafts, as well as a couple of local charitable organizations. I bought some upcycled jewellery from Sylvie Leost and some duck feed from a charity. Unity had a beer stand, so we had a half pint each and enjoyed talking to a friendly but confused drunk guy.

After the festival, we walked along the river down to the Unity Tap room to enjoy more beer and some very good food from Hibiscus Mexican Kitchen. Turns out the tap room now has a different food truck on site every Saturday! We walked back, hoping to feed some ducks on the way, but saw no waterfowl at all due to the low tide. The rest of the weekend was board games and chillin.

Then last weekend Anna and Hogg came down from London to visit for the weekend! We saw Criminal Ornamentation at the City Arts Gallery, which was excellent. I also finally had a chance to have a look at the Perseus Series by Burne-Jones, which had been on loan last time I was there.

We got breakfast at La Baronia and then walked into town for donuts and and coffee, and then walked back home along the river, this time there swans but I had no food for them. We spent the rest of the afternoon fighting unspeakable horrors in Arkham and eating delicious brownies cooked up by Anna. Then we ordered Nigerian delivery from Afritopia, the menu stumped us at first since most things were labeled as “soup”, but Anna helped puzzle some things out and we ended up with a really delicious meal.

On Sunday I made pancakes for breakfast and we played with the PSVR set that they had brought down with them, I had skipped my turn the night before because I am entirely useless at flying games, but this time it was Beat Saber, which is much more my speed. I enjoyed it immensely, though I don’t know if I’d want to spend that much money on the hardware. Though I do see No Man’s Sky is an option…. hmmm.

We finished off the visit with a massive lunch at 7bone (do they do any other kind?) and enjoyed the sunshine on the walk home. John popped into Argos for a sorely needed new wifi router, and once Anna and Hogg left for their train home he promptly went to work setting it up while I finished my chores for the weekend.

By evening we were still full from lunch, and too tired to do much more than veg, so we watched This Is Spinal Tap, enjoyed the speedy new wifi, and got to bed at a sensible hour for once.

Kent!

On Friday the 14th (not quite as ominous, is it) I had a nice lunch with an old co-worker who now lives in Sweden and then after work John and I headed up to the Unity Brewing Taproom, which we had intended to go to for ages. Turns out it is moving near St. Mary’s stadium soon, so I’m glad we got to see the old digs before that. Back home we packed and got in a good night sleep in preparation for the weekend adventure exploring Kent. John’s parents got in around 9:30am and after a hearty full English at Miss Ellie’s Café in Bitterne Triangle, we hit the road.

It was early afternoon when we got into Margate, and after checking into our AirBnb we immediately walked down to the beach. It was a bit windy and overcast, but generally nice. We bought jellied eels in the spirit of experimentation, and agreed that while not as gross as the name suggests they are probably something we don’t need to have again. A soft serve ice cream palate cleanser followed shortly, then we explored the little cluster of boutiques, which had some really fantastic vintage clothes as well as other cool stuff. John and I had a cheeky snack of soul food chicken wings from the Smoke Shack at the Old Kent Market, a delightful gallery of food and shops which we meant to re-visit but didn’t quite manage. Then we met up with his parents and had a pint at The Lifeboat (not a Brewdog) before a proper dinner at a nice Caribbean place called Olbys

Sunday morning we drove to Whitstable for a walk on the beach. But first we checked out a quirky micropub called The Black Dog, a dark wood venue covered with cool art and serving very nice beers. We walked along the beach trail all the way to Herne Bay, the wind made the walk a bit more tiring that it would have been otherwise, but it was fun to see the traditional rows of colourful beach huts along the way. By the time we arrived back at the car it was time for our next beer, but sadly the place we had planned to go was closed on Mondays so instead we headed back to Margate and a tasty meal at a Sri Lankan place called Riz. We had dosas and a curry with an entire crab in it, which was messy but good, best was the mutton. After dinner we went to Fez, an even quirkier place than the Black Dog, and then one street over to The Two Halves, which was much plainer inside but made up for it with an seafront view. I was pretty tired by the time we got back but we did manage to squeeze in one game of Railroad Ink.

The flat we were staying in was cute and well located, but a bit warm – so I the next morning I started off a little bleary-eyed, though to be fair still far chipper than if I had been going to work. The plan for the day was heading first to Ramsgate, where John made his traditional pilgrimage to the local board game shop followed by a nice walk on the beach, which had more dead crabs than expected but was otherwise very nice. Then we drove over to Deal to check out Deal Castle, which is more of a coastal fort but pleasingly rounded and full of proto-stalactites. We had a walk along the waterfront and then drove over to Broadstairs four our last microbrew of the weekend, The Four Candles. Then it was back home for a dinner of fish and chips while watching the sunset.

And then it was our last day, we packed and put everything in the car with the plan to get some pastries at a bakery we’d spotted in the Old Kent Market. When we got there they only had some sausage rolls in the display case, so we walked down to The Coffee Shed, which had lovely pain au chocolat and au raisin, plus some delicious nata tarts. As we dug into out pastries, Ruth spotted the baker from the Old Kent Market bakery delivering a batch of fresh pastries, so it turned out we got exactly what we wanted anyway! 

Our last bit of sightseeing in Margate was the Shell Grotto – which is a truly wonderful mystery. A strange underground cavern/temple/folly/grotto encrusted in intricate shell patterns, built at some point before 1835, by persons unknown for reasons that seem likely to be religious but really who knows? It was great. The gift shop is pretty on point with its theming too, so I enjoyed the whole experience immensely.

We said goodbye to Margate and headed to our last adventure of the holiday; Canterbury! Or more specifically Canterbury Cathedral. Ruth and Charles had already seen it so they wandered the city while John and I spent the next couple of hours in the cathedral. It is currently undergoing renovations, because that’s what cathedrals do basically, and therefore there was quite a bit of scaffolding and whatnot, but it is a massive building with surrounding grounds and structures so we had plenty to see; the sculpture memorializing Thomas Becket’s martyrdom, beautiful stained glass, ancient murals in the crypts, plus Victorian graffiti. We even ran into someone who recognized John from Eastercon, because fandom is everywhere.

Eventually our eyes and brains were full and all that was left was the drive home with a stop for unexpectedly delicious Italian food at La Campania in Arundel.