Last weekend we caught the train 40 minutes southeast and ended up in deep outer london suburbia at Abbey Wood, where there are remnants of, amazingly, an Abbey, built in 1178 by Sir Richard de Luci who was a Norman lord, as penance for his part in the murder of Thomas a Becket the archbishop of Canterbury. What remains today is essentially footings and some walls varying from knee up to shoulder height, some a bit taller with lovely arched doors and slot windows. It’s quite well presented, with maintained grass between the short walls, local kids playing cricket and hide and seek, and families having picnics and walking dogs. There were plaques to tell us what the rooms were, including the dormitories, scriptorium, main abbey, the sacristy, the cloisters and courtyard etc. It is the oddest thing to walk around a grassed area which used to be the inside of an abbey, and stumble across a carved stone coffin/sarcophagus cover. Also nearby was a sign saying that under the font that used to be there was buried the heart of Sir Richard de Luci’s grand-daughter, clearly she liked the place a lot. In the woods nearby was a small cordoned off area where you can go and dig for fossils. We had a bit of a dig and found lots of shells and two small shark teeth (the area was under water millions of years ago) which apparently are the most common find in the area – there was a display of about 50 of them at the information booth. We had a lovely relaxing afternoon in the park, till the local teens started to emerge from their council flat tower blocks with assorted cans of beer, baby pushers or tough looking dogs, at which point we caught the train back to central london for a lovely dinner with Dave and Sal at Tayyabs, which according to the locals is the best bengali restaurant in east london, and conveniently located right next door to our building. Unfortunately bengali cuisine is fairly meat based but they do serve some fantastic dahl, an excellent chickpea dish and a very good potato and spinach curry, and their naan bread was described in a review as ‘like biting into a tasty duvet’. We have yet to leave enough room for a visit to the lurid sweets display cabinet, one day we will achieve this.