Welcome to my world!

The reflections and comments of a resident in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Yomper statue to stay on Eastney seafront

The board of The National Museum of the Royal Navy has agreed unanimously to keep the Yomper statue where it is on Eastney seafront.

The resounding “yes” followed a year-long public consultation which gathered over 3000 responses from across the country.

The Yomper, sculpted by Philip Jackson, has become a very popular feature of the Eastney seafront. It dominates the entrance to the Royal Marines Museum and was originally commissioned as a marker for the museum, the galleries of which are now closed to visitors. It was unveiled by Lady Margaret Thatcher on 8 July 1992 on the 10th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. 

Following the award of a £13.85 million grant in May 2016 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create the country’s newest national collection at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, it was announced that a new Royal Marines Museum would open in the historic dockyard. It was feared this would prompt the removal of the statue from its current location to the new museum when it opens in 2020.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said: “The board was moved by the strength of public feeling about the Yomper and easily convinced of the proud place it occupies on the seafront. We have made the right decision.

“We are very pleased that we went out to public consultation and those against the move put together a great, persuasive campaign.

But we do need to reach a final agreement with the city council on ground maintenance and how we will care for the statue when there is no longer a team on site. Although rare, if there are any incidences of vandalism, we will have to reconsider. The statue remains as part of the museum’s collection and we have a duty to ensure it is well cared for.”

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Fried skate wings

A fried skate or ray wing (I don't know which) can be really delicious. It's also a fish dish that doesn't have any bones to deal with. Great for someone who hates dealing with the bones.

Pat dry the wings on kitchen paper. Then dust with plain flour mixed with Paprika powder, salt and pepper. Then shallow fry for 5 minutes on each side or until the edges are dry and crispy.

Serve with mash, jacket potatoes or simply with steamed vegetables for a very quick dinner.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Top 5 National Trust events this summer

My latest National Trust magazine has just arrived, full of information on the various properties and activities they are offering this summer.

Here are my favourites for the ones near us

The Great British Dog Walk (really?) at New Forest Commons
Sunday 21 May, 11 am to 4.30 pm
Fun for the family promised with adult tickets costing £10, available from 01844 348101

Family trail at Hinton Ampner
Saturday 27 May - Sunday 4 June, 10 am to 5 pm
Explore the grounds during the half-term holiday
Suggested donation of £1

Rose season at Mottisfont
Throughout June
The roses will be in full bloom and there will be free talks with the gardeners at 2 pm daily

Feast Festival at Waddesdon Manor
17-18 June, 10 am to 5 pm
Experience music, dance and interactive theatrical performances while enjoying fabulous food and drink.
Entry £5 for adults and £2.50 for children

30-hour record Millathon at Winchester Mill
17-18 June, 10 am to 4 pm
Watch the millers attempt a new record of 30 hours non-stop milling. Cheer them on by moonlight or join in for coffee and biscuits 6-10am on Sunday.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Five things to do in Venice

I had the chance to travel to Venice recently and was totally in love with the city. It has been on my bucket list for a long time and I kept talking about it, so my husband said...how about it?

I'm a well-read traveller and like to check out what the place has to offer before I go. Our public library in Portsmouth is great at stocking up travel books. In fact, borrow one with a map and you don't need to buy any when you get to your destination.

It's good to check out places you may want to see, or any that you may skip. Travel books also have useful information on opening hours and advice about buying entry tickets to museums and attractions. However, information changes all the time and so do try to find the latest information online too.

Websites like Tripadvisor will have feedback from recent visitors and so more up-to-date. But don't be swayed too much by online reviews. People's tastes are different and what is bad for others, might be good for you.

1. We were advised to arrive by boat so as to experience the location and indeed it was a very good advice. It was very atmospheric even though our boat only had tiny windows. Arriving by boat allowed us also to adjust to the pace of life in the next few days.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected. After booking my ticket online and carefully noting the orange line water taxi, I found when we arrived we were ushered into the next boat which headed to Rialto Bridge. I had wanted to go on to San Marco, but apparently, on that day Rialto will be the last stop on the orange line contrary to what the website stated. Oh, well, just go along.

3. Enjoy the crowd. Landing at Rialto Bridge was really amazing, like being dropped in Trafalgar Square. People and gondolas everywhere and hundreds crowding the historic bridge taking selfies and group photos.

As we were visiting very early in April, we were expecting Venice to be quiet. Quieter, perhaps, for Venice never goes quiet it seems. When we were there the lanes were already thronging with people, mainly school children and having been stuck behind some of the school groups, I felt I understand the Venetian grudge against tourists.

4. Be prepared to get lost. Upon reaching our destination we promptly got lost. I soon learnt that when the map said 'calle' I was expecting a lane about the width of at least a car. It turned out some 'roads' in Venice were very narrow and this one was barely the width of a man.

My husband praised my knack of finding the best hotels as the one I picked turned out to be so central and accessible. Just minutes from the Rialto Bridge and the famous market, but on the quieter side.

We walked and walked on our first few hours and just marvelled at the place. It was fun to go up and down bridges and finding ourselves lost only to emerge next to a heaving bar.

5. Do try the local food and custom for 'ombre'. After orienting ourselves with the place, if that was indeed what we were doing, I found my first cichetti place and had a pile of freshly fried prawns and calamari in a paper cone. I was smitten!

We went back to the eatery that I had read about and we decided to stop by there for our first meal. It was a very good choice. In the Do Spade the service was friendly and the food amazing. We tried more fried seafood and the clam spaghetti.

Over the next few days we had an adventure of trying various cichetti places and it was so much fun!

Moeche is soft shell crab friend in batter and the local speciality.

At the Do Spade, all the cichetti come with some white polenta.

There are so many different variety of cichetti to choose from.

 I will tell you more about the sights in Venice another day!

A spring evening

Today turned out to be so hot, I was completely overdressed in my spring coat. The air was still and dry. It feels like it's finally time to dust off the barbeque.

I had left work early to go to Robert Dyas to buy some hanging baskets and was looking forward to spending the evening gardening.

Alas, when I put down my chopsticks at the end of the dinner, I noticed the pitter-patter of rain on the conservatory roof.

No gardening tonight.

Such is the unpredictability of spring weather!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

How to cook nasi goreng

I was in the Thai food shop on Albert Road one day when this lady asked the shopkeeper whether she has any packet spice for nasi goreng. The shopkeeper and her mother broke out into a conference in Thai, the upshot being that they had no idea what nasi goreng was.

Nasi goreng is not a Thai dish and that was partly why the shopkeeper had no idea. It is an Indonesian dish and it is so easy to make that I wanted to teach the lady there and then how to cook it.

A few weeks have passed by and I'm still thinking about this poor woman looking for the nasi goreng. Here's the recipe and if you heard of anyone mentioning this recipe, point her or him to this blog!

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian for fried rice)

A bowl of cooked rice
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
a handful of peas, fresh, frozen or tinned
some diced carrots
some sliced shallots
1 clove of garlic, chopped
an egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

If you have a wok, it's great, if not a wide based frying pan is fine to do this.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and fry the shallots and garlic, add the carrots and peas and stir fry until cooked (around 5-7 minutes). Then add the rice, soy sauce and tomato ketchup and mix well. Stir fry and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove the rice, and heat another tablespoon of oil and fry the egg. Add on top of the rice and serve.

You can also add prawns or chicken pieces to the dish.

If you have some prawn crackers, they are the perfect accompaniment to the fried rice. Make sure you also add a dollop of chilli sauce on the side for lip-smacking spiciness.

Silahkan makan!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Perfect summer rolls

For years I have adored the Vietnamese rice paper rolls, but I thought I could only get them at Vietnamese restaurants. I first tasted this in America, where Vietnamese restaurants were the closest I could get to authentic Asian food.

Trying to find something that my gluten-intolerant friend could eat, I searched and found the recipe for the rolls, which many call 'summer rolls'. I was so amazed to find that they are very easy to make and so I thought I should share it with you because these are fun to eat as well with their dipping sauce and can be made ahead.

(Makes 8)
16 large raw, peeled prawns
1 block of rice vermicelli
4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked
4 sprigs of coriander
2 strands of chives, cut into 10cm lengths (optional)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
1 soft lettuce, ½ shredded
4 tbsp salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
8 rice paper wrappers

For the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bird's eye chilli, finely sliced

Bring a pan of water to boil, add the prawns, turn down the heat and poach for two minutes until pink. Drain and cut in half.

Put the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then rinse well in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Set out all the ingredients within easy reach of a clean, dry chopping board. Half fill a bowl big enough to fit the wrappers in with cold water, and then dunk one in and keep patting until it's pliable, but not completely soft. Lay flat on the chopping board.

Arrange two crossed chives, if using, horizontally towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. Top with four prawn halves in a horizontal line, and top these with a line of herb leaves. Add a pinch of carrot and a few cucumber sticks, some of the sliced pork, then a small clump of rice vermicelli. Finish with some shredded lettuce and a line of crushed peanuts.

Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly up over the filling, and then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate, join-side down. Cover rolls with lettuce leaves to keep them fresh.

Once all the rolls are made, make the sauce. Whisk the sugar into the lime juice to dissolve, then add the remaining ingredients. Adjust to taste if necessary.

Now you are ready to enjoy the summer rolls.