- The family came down for the weekend: Evie has just celebrated her third birthday, and Amelia is just over ten months, so they're both pretty active. Evie is a big fan of Peppa Pig, and shares Peppa's passion for splashing about in puddles wearing her little wellies. She also likes watering the plants with her toy watering can, even though it rained most of the time they were here. Jill, typically, cooked enough food for a regiment, including the fabl'd Eversley crispy duck, the recipe for which she has perfected over many years, and which is now better than that in any restaurant I've been to. The secret is to buy fresh ducks and freeze them yourself, and then (don't give my secrets away! Jill
). Oh well, it'll just have to wait for Jill's Can't-Be-Arsed Cookbook
which I've been threatening to write for years. On Friday they went down to the beach in a brief gap in the clouds - Evie likes to pick up pebbles and bring them home. She also shovels pebbles from the gravel at the bottom of the garden into the big puddle on the patio to make her own 'beach'. Amelia is crawling everywhere, and especially interested in the stairs, although restrained by Claire when she tries to climb up. She can also stand up, holding on to a piece of furniture, but has yet to take her first steps.
On Friday afternoon we had a late lunch/early dinner at The Fish Factory
: in the 'summer' I did a couple of jobs at the Worthing Food Festival (post of 11-Jul-12
) for Andy Sparsis, who owns the restaurant, and he offered a meal in return. We love the place: it's modestly priced and the fish are always spot-on fresh (as you'd expect in a seaside town). Indeed, I featured it in CHEF
magazine in October 2010 as one of my five favourite restaurants of recent years. This is what I said about it:
This is our local fish restaurant, and is everything a good, seaside fish restaurant should be: simple, plain-scrubbed wooden floors and tables, fresh fish whatever the season, and excellent service. Owner Andy Sparsis comes from a fish-and-chip background, and you can choose your fish fried, grilled, steamed or however you want. There's everything from the plain cod and chips with mushy peas to Dover sole, fish mezze, fish Wellington and lobster cooked any way you like it: excellent value, too.
I scootled along in advance while they all walked (well, not Amelia, of course, but Evie did) - it's about a 10-minute walk. Indeed, we're lucky enough to have three pubs and half a dozen restaurants within walking distance, as well as the seafront cafés and fresh fish direct from the fishermen's boats. We like living in Worthing.
Anyway, Jill and Claire tucked into enormous kettles of mussels, James had the fish stew and I had halibut and chips (their chips are something else). Evie managed a child's portion of pasta and we polished off a couple of bottles of Muscadet between us (not Evie, of course, and Amelia slept through the whole affair in her pushchair). We got back home about 7:00 pm and, well, all fell asleep (well I did, anyway).
On Saturday we looked at Evie's birthday pictures - including a stunning animation by James which I'm not allowed to show you - and they headed home about lunchtime. BTW did you know (I didn't) that there's a new motorway service area between junctions 9 and 10 on the M25? Very handy if you need to stop for a pee, as I usually do between here and Caddington. In the past we had to wait until Ryka's Café at Box Hill, where there was always a temptation to have the 'Biker's Breakfast' which has more calories than a box of chocolates.
All in all a very pleasant, if slightly exhausting, couple of days. We're looking forward to seeing them again at Christmas, by which time Amelia will be one year old. Doesn't time fly (See post of 01-Oct-12