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w/e 2022-07-03


A photo of a pint of beer with a Camden Town Brewery logo, and a small plate of four large halloumi fries, coated in crisp breadcrumbs, topped with slivers of spring onion and chillies

I returned home this week, via a day in London which was nice until I wasn’t sure what to do, still being (too) cautious about going indoors plus carrying a too-heavy backpack. I ended up doing a record amount of plodding around, ending with a pint in the sun at what’s become my favourite close-to-Paddington pub.

§ It’s been three years since I last had my eyes tested, what with everything, but I’d made an appointment for this trip. I’d thought about finding somewhere new, local to us, but I’ve been seeing the same optician in London since the mid-1990s, when my colleague-and-friend Lizzie took me to her favourite, and I’m reluctant to give up such a long-term relationship with nice people who stock interesting frames.

But, it turns out, the main optician guy is, unsurprisingly, cutting back his hours these days so I’d have been tested by a new chap. And then the woman with the keys was delayed on her cycle to work and I couldn’t wait long, and I ended up having to leave before they could open up.

So I guess that’s that quarter-century relationship over.

§ While I was away the remains of the small wood near us that was harvested a couple of months ago was gathered into heaps and set ablaze, resulting in a lot of smoke that carried on for… well they’re still smoking now. Although it wasn’t blowing directly in our direction, most of the week the house smelt smoky, even with the windows closed.

A photo of a small brown field that disappears down a slope, with white smoke rising in front of some leafy trees

Next winter, when I feel slightly guilty for using our wood-burning stove occasionally, I’ll remember that it’s fine to leave large bonfires smoking, filling a valley with a grey haze, for days on end, so just light the stove.

§ We finished the first season of For All Mankind on Apple TV+ this week which we enjoyed. It’s an alternative history of the space race, this season set in the 1970s.

There were several times where I was briefly uneasy about aspects of it. Was it fetishizing the olden days too much, like Mad Men? Was it another show that was a bit too rah-rah American? Is there something just a bit too glossy and easy and samey about all these high-budget streaming series which slip down easily but somehow only go so far? Was it just a bit too predictable too often?

Probably yes to all of those but we still enjoyed it. It’s a well-done spectacle. And while some of the alternative events – like lots of women becoming astronauts – could have seemed unlikely (given the period) they were justified well.

§ That’s it, bye.

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