Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Stanley Goes To The Beach

Yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday, we took Stanley to the beach for the first time.

Following our lovely-yet-windy early Bank Holiday Monday trip to Whitstable (okay that was a beach too but it’s pebbly not sandy so not included), Uncle Tom and Auntie India and I had planned to take the car for a repeat getaway on the second Bank Holiday Monday.

This time round we were treated to a real rarity - UK Bank Holiday Monday sun! It was a little windy but gloriously blue skies shone above throughout our day.

Camber Sands Picnic

We drove down to Camber Sands near Rye and it took just under two hours. We stopped at a farmer’s shop just a few minutes from the beach and picked up a picnic consisting of:

1 family sized pork pie
1 avocado,
2 freshly cooked beetroot (oven cooked at the farm shop, cute!)
4 flour baps
1 x hunk of cheddar
1 x hunk of stilton
4 tomatoes
1 x tub of unsalted peanut butter
2 Braeburn apples
1 x pack of oatcakes
1 x Fentiman's Curiosity Cola

When we arrived at Camber Sands, we parked up and I bought Stan a little cap at a beach-side shop to keep the sun off him and then we headed to the sea.

Camber Sands must be one of if not the best beach in Sussex. It’s a large wide SANDY bay with hilly sand dunes running all the way along the coast which makes it ideal for a picnic as you can walk along until you find your ideal place to perch.

We walked up the hill and picked a spot on one of the dunes looking down at the sea. I love sand dunes! There’s something so nice about dozing off in the sun, sheltered by the wind. Camber Sands has a very flat shore with virtually no shelf so when the tide goes out you have a very long, wide beach to run around in – which Stanley adored.

Slightly older kids were building all sorts of sand castles and I can’t wait to take Stanley back when he’s a bit older but yesterday he mostly enjoyed crawling head first down hills, dipping his feet in the sea, falling over and generally getting covered in sand.

That’s pretty much the extent of our lazy Bank Holiday Monday but less is more once your days are spent running after a toddler and it was definitely one of the most loveliest days of my year so far.

It took us just under two hours to drive there each way and Stanley spent virtually the whole time asleep and only woke at the very end of the journey. We staved off a cranky session with some repeat renditions of 'The Wheels on The Bus' and 'Old Macdonald' and managed to keep a melt down at bay.

If you’re thinking of a day trip to the South Coast, wait till it's sunny and then head for Camber Sands.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Mr. Buckley’s – Small Plates on Hackney Road

Ever since a friend tipped me off about the little cocktail bar/ restaurant that had opened up on Hackney Road and I caught a peek of the unassuming frontage and neon sign as I travelled past on the bus, I've been trying to make it down to Mr. Buckley’s. Six weeks on
yes this is how spontaneous life is post baby I finally made it there for dinner.

Mr. Buckley’s is half way down Hackney Road, a couple of blocks down (if you’re heading into the city) from the Broadway Market and Hackney City Farm turning.

The raised restaurant is a couple of steps up from street level when you enter. There is a downstairs bar but this was closed when we visited on a Wednesday. Our waitress said it opened on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays when things get a bit busier. Upstairs had just a scattering of tables but most were full.
My friend arrived and we started with a couple of Rhubarb Flip cocktails – made up of cognac, rhubarb syrup, egg whites and sugar. These were DELICIOUS. They we’re thick and made largely of fresh rhubarb and had just the right amount of sweet VS booze.  
Mr. Buckley’s menu is made up of small plates designed for sharing. We salivated over all the wonderful sounding dishes as we tried to choose the best combination the six things we wanted to try the most. The menu recommended three dishes per person - although in the end we settled on just five. 
First to arrive was ham hock with homemade pickles. This was nicely presented with some greens and pickled carrots and onions scattered around the plate and what really made the dish shine was a wasabi-pea tasting green sauce that cut really well with the ham.
Small sharing-style plates have been in fashion at restaurants for some time now but last night made me wonder if these type of establishments are giving themselves a harder time by offering up a menu and saying ‘eat it all together’ if you want to.
After the ham hock, the dishes went down hill for me and I can’t help but think this was more down to the combination of flavours and dishes we chose rather than a fault with the food itself. 

Next up was Ragstone with almond, broccoli, beetroot and ruby chard (not this florescent in the flesh the image was taken with a flash). I was expecting this dish to be more salad-based but the strong whipped Ragstone really took over and I found it overpowering compared to the rest of the elements on the plate. The broccoli was a little over-cooked and under seasoned for my taste.
We then had blue cheese polenta, sautéed wild mushrooms and truffled oil. The polenta was fabulously cooked and all the flavours married well but this was a bit of a full-on dish to follow the Ragastone and chard.
Our last two dishes to arrive were jerk crusted onglet steak, smoked paprika and mango butter with sweet potato crisps and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.
I loved the steak dish. The Jerk seasoning was fiery and powerful and the mango butter made for a great combo.
The lobster mac ‘n’ cheese looked impressive, a neat tower of thick pasta topped with shiny bright orange roe. It tasted fine but wasn’t stand out and I couldn’t help but reminisce about the green chilli mac ‘n’ cheese I had at Rita’s in Dalston.
These guys have absolutely nailed it with the environment. The atmosphere was warm, inviting and relaxed. The lighting was just right and interiors were simple with exposed brickwork and a few tea lights dotted around. All the diners were enjoying themselves and our waitress was helpful and not at all intrusive. 

Despite some of the dishes being not 100% spot on, there’s something about Mr. Buckley’s that just makes me want to like it. The menu is varied and the dishes have clearly been imagined and put together with creative flair. I’m keen to go back and do it all again but this time with more cocktails and some lighter menu choices.
Mr Buckley’s
277 Hackney Rd, London E2 8NA
020 3664 0033 

Mr Buckleys on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Thursday, 16 May 2013

52 Stanley Thursdays - so far

I can't believe it's May already, nearly half a year of 52 Stanley Thursdays. I've been late with a couple but have managed to post once a week so far.

Stan changes and grows so quickly so it's a really nice way to record his growing up. This week's pic is from our trip to the swings in the local park.

Click here for : 52stanleythursdays.tumblr.com

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