Hi folks, it’s true, I am still alive, despite the best efforts of legions of dastardly British Bugs to finish me off. Our flat echoed with the sound of chesty coughs all weekend, conjuring vivid mental images of the tuberculosis-suffering working men who inhabited our doss-house building in Orwell’s time in the early 20th century. Eight of them lived in the area taken up by our 1-bed flat at any one time, so I’m sure at least a few of them had tuberculosis. Perhaps the germs are still determinedly hanging around in the building fabric and infecting us. The doctor can’t explain why I have repeated mild bronchitis, his latest suggestion is that I’m developing asthma from the high levels of pollution here which is making me susceptible to bronchial infection. Great, that’s exactly what I wanted out of my time in the UK – weakened lungs and repeated respiratory illnesses! I refused antibiotics this time as I have had three courses in 6 months, surely not so good for the immune system. What kind of stupid decision was that – bring on the antibiotics!
So anyway, the success story of the weekend was my attempt at baking vegan Hot Cross Buns – a practice run for next weekend. Based on my one previous attempt I was expecting the resultant buns to be texturally appropriate to furnish Justin with a dozen missiles to launch out the window at Loud People disturbing the peace at 3am. However much to my surprise these turned out perfectly – for eating not throwing! Especially amazing considering we have no measuring, weighing or sifting devices. For a photo of my efforts see the cooking page.
Last weekend we went to the O2 arena, also known as the Millenium Dome, to see the Tutankhamun exhibition. The O2 arena itself was somewhere to which I don’t wish to return any time soon, being very much like a large suburban shopping centre only with even less sense of ‘genius loci’ and contextual appropriateness. Its internal piazzas and boulevards were lined with anonymous global chain stores, marble tiles and – the piece de resistance – freeze-dried trees. Yes that’s right, freeze-dried trees. Tall palm trees, rows of blossom trees, spiky shrubs, all freeze dried. I’m guessing this is a warped frankensteinian extension of the freeze-dried astronaut food technology. Squares of novelty freeze-dried astronaut icecream I can take, but this was technology gone mad! They’d even strung fairy lights around the poor trees, although I would have thought with a little more planning they could have run the lighting cable within the centre of the tree trunk and branches to conceal it and achieved an even higher level of tackiness. (OK so I’m an architectural snob – it’s my job.) Sorry, sidetracked. So the Tutankhamun exhibition – very exciting! The staff selling tickets let the show down a little by wearing Disney-style black velveteen and gold lame stuffed Tutankhamun headdresses – oh so stylish – and by charging an extra 4 pounds for the audio guide after everyone had already paid 22 pounds for the tickets! Daylight robbery. However the exhibition itself was great – there were many wonderful treasures on show, quite well displayed although some more information would have been good (we didn’t get the audio guide as a protest. There’s a phrase, something about cutting off one’s nose…?) So I have now seen the beautiful canopic jars, gold statues, jewellery and other amazing items from the tomb. Unfortunately the mummy was not present. I guess they had to leave something behind in Cairo for all their visitors, and perhaps he’s too fragile to travel these days, I know I’d not be up to much travelling at the age of 3219-odd years old. Fantastic exhibition, and well worth it.
Next weekend being Easter we are holding an offshore extension of the Monk traditional Easter bun Brunch on Good Friday, hopefully featuring another successful batch of my homemade buns. For the testing panel we have also got Flour Power organic buns from Borough market, good old Sainsbury’s buns, and hopefully a batch from a lovely bakery called Euphorium bakery near Angel. Many of our friends here will be away so just an intimate gathering of six. We are hoping to go away for a day or two over the weekend, perhaps to the south-east. Perhaps we will even be in good health for it! More updates as events arise. Bye now!