Monday, March 21, 2016

Unwined in Tooting

Tooting Market. Sunday 20-March-2016

Not sure how we discovered this small entrepreneurial wine and food outlet (possibly through Time Out Love London awards). Anyhow Mary booked us in for a "Bottomless" Sunday lunch.

Unwined sell wine (clue in the name!) and do events and all sorts of other stuff but they also have a permanent base in the unlikely setting of Tooting Market where they do tastings and sell wines with a theme of the month. They pair with pop-up chefs for the full dining out experience. This week the partner was Vinn Goute, serving Seychelles inspired street food.

Here our hostess, Kiki, is pouring an interesting rose prosecco from a small independent producer. That was the wine theme for this month: one of a kind, so we got interesting and unusual, one-off wines from small producers.

Starters were just that little bit different: a tuna samosa served with spicy sweet and sour sauce and lentil fritters with a chilli mayonnaise. The main course was fish which turned out to be red snapper with rice, peppers and salad and a fierce Scotch Bonnet salsa. That was paired with a Spanish white, Marques de Alella 'Sepo'.

The deal was unlimited wine (well for an hour and a half) so we started on the second bottle of white. Then Mary had the cheese board with a glass of negroamaro made using traditional methods and I had flambéed banana with ice cream and a New Zealand noble rot riesling which was absolutely superb. We had walked over to the market but after a long, leisurely and boozy lunch we let the 219 bus carry us home. Definitely up for a return visit; Mary says this could become a regular.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Robbie McIntosh at the Half Moon

Putney, London. Saturday 19-March-2016

Another gig with our visiting US friend Delton. We knew nothing of Robbie but his CV lists some well known names. He was with The Pretenders for five years and has played with Roger Daltry, Paul McCartney and Norah Jones.

Robbie played some fine rockin' blues music. He makes it looks so effortless. Whenever you see someone who can do that you know they are a master of their art. I can see why he is in demand as a session musician.

An enjoyable meal before at Alquimia Spanish Restaurant & Tapas Bar then a full two-set gig at the Half Moon. It continues to amaze me that you can see superb musicians up close in small venues for the price of a couple of pints.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hogsmill Restoration Day 02

West Ewell, Surrey. Saturday 19-March-2016.

More restoration but this time on the site of a former weir. An earlier project by South East Rivers Trust had seen various weirs removed and this section had some "hard" edging to prevent erosion alongside a footpath. If you look in the first picture the dark line on the far right hand bank marks the previous water level when the weir was in place.

In order to soften the edges a series of large coir "sausages", pre-seeded with river plants, had been placed in the river earlier in the week. Our mission was to stabilise this arrangement. Who would have thought that there is sufficient demand that are specialist companies out there making these things, all pre-seeded with watery plants.

Half way down this stretch is what may look to you like a bit of old brick wall. In fact it is remnants of one of the gun-powder mills for which this river was renowned.

First step: the sausages were pulled out from the bank.

Then reseated back in the exact placement required.

Stakes positioned to hold the sausages in place, then driven in part way.

Finally wired in place and the stakes driven home to tighten the wires.

Finally a bit of river-bank gardening: transplanting reeds from the opposite bank to add vegetation to the coir rolls.

Another day of most satisfactory work.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hogsmill Restoration Day 01

West Ewell Friday 18-March-2016

A day of habitat improvement on the Hogsmill River organised by the South East Rivers Trust. "The Hogsmill River in Surrey, England, is one of the tributaries of the River Thames. It rises in Ewell and flows into the Thames at Kingston upon Thames on the reach above Kingston road bridge. The river is 6 miles (9.9 km) in length and has a catchment area (water basin) of 73 km²" [1]

And it is a very arty river: "It was along the banks of the Hogsmill that Milais painted his famous 'Ophelia'. Hunt's painting 'The Light of the World' in which he depicts Jesus knocking at a door, was set against one of the disused huts of the Gunpowder Mills." [2]

I missed the first day due to a prior engagement. That day was spent on creating meanders to slow the flow and create whirls and eddies to scour the riverbed in places and create suitable spawning areas and also provide banks for flora to establish itself. This day was continuing that work.

The first step is to create an obstruction using a log to constrict the flow and create the basis of the meander.

The log is fixed in place with stakes.

Wires are fixed to the stakes and through grooves chainsawed across the log. Banging the stakes further in secures the log to the river bed.

Next we need some "brash" - brash wood is brittle sticks or twigs. To generate more of that Toby felled a tree and then trimmed off a load of branches.

The branches are laid in wedges both upstream and downstream of the log to create a lozenge of bank-to-be.

Using a similar technique to the main log the branches are staked, wired and tightened in place. These will eventually trap silt, be populated by plants and create a meandering river bank.

Work in progress.

Time for a well deserved lunch break - with cake.

Back into the river for meander number two.

By the end of the day we had create three meanders.

Now we let nature take its course to scour away the silt to expose the original river bed by the logs and move it along to where it can create fresh banks.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Snowboy and The Latin Section at Ronnie Scott's

Soho, London. Thursday 17-March-2016.

Mary's membership of Ronnie's includes one free, standard price gig. We went for this one and treated ourselves to an upgrade to premier seating. Not sure what to expect musically, we don't really know Cuban music, but you can never go wrong at Ronnie's. It turned out to be most excellent funky Latin jazz delivered with energy and enthusiasm.

Doors Open for: Snowboy at the Latin Section 'New York Afternoon' Album Launch. Garnering rave reviews for the album, “...
Posted by Official Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club & Ronnie's Bar on Thursday, 17 March 2016

There were various dignitaries in the audience who Snowboy introduced and was kind enough to photograph afterwards: Jazz FM broadcaster and Snarky Puppy manager, Mike Chadwick, broadcaster Tony Minvielle, Professor Robert Farris Thompson, Tobias Tak, Nico and Davide.

The joy of a weekday show is that you get two sets from the band so you really get a full quota of music. We treated ourself to the vinyl of Snowboy's new album. It seems that Ronnie's is a becoming regular source of additions to our shiny black disc collection.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mario Biondi at Under The Bridge

Stamford Bridge, London. Monday14-March-2016.

Our second time of seeing Mario. This time in the more intimate setting of UTB and with our friend Kathy over from Italy. A sold out gig, hardly surprising with a capacity of only 550.

It was a much more enjoyable concert than at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. We were about the same distance from the stage so it's not that. Maybe the acoustics were kinder. I think he played a very different set list and certainly in a more relaxed style.

Whatever the reason it worked. It was a much better gig, thoroughly enjoyable.

LondraItalia described it as "un apprezzabile e sincero concerto pop, ben suonato e di qualitĂ ." [Full review...]