I have been out and about this week. On Monday Simon and I went down to Box Hill (as mentioned in Jane Austen’s Emma) to get some fresh air and give the dog a good run. We’ve finally discovered a quicker route to get there and, as we hope to go there a few times this year, we decided that I should take out National Trust membership which gives us free parking there and means I can visit other National Trust properties for free. So, on a mission to make good use of my membership from the very beginning, I went to Thomas Carlyle’s house (Victorian writer of The History of the French Revolution, among other books, none of which I have read) which is just off King’s Road in Chelsea. As it didn’t open ’til the afternoon, I decided to pop into the Victoria and Albert Museum first and have a look at their costume and fashion section. We are in the middle of a Jane Austen season on TV here, with ITV showing adaptations of some of her works on a Sunday night (the traditional time for a costume drama!), so I wanted to look particularly at Regency fashions. Well, fashion and costume section turned out to be closed temporarily ’til 1 April. Knowing that the British Galleries have some items of clothing, I headed up to 18th and 19th Century section, only to find that that also was temporarily shut. So, I ended up in the 16th and 17th Centuries instead, until, desperate for a cup of coffee, I headed for the cafe. Here, too, I was disappointed as there was a long queue being let in only by the number of people who left. So, deciding to go without, off I went to Carlyle’s House (all my travelling on red double decker buses), only to get there five minutes before it opened. I ended up having a delicious mocha and an almond croissant in Starbuck’s – a mega treat- (and foiling would be pick-pockets and distraction thieves) before finally, and much refreshed, gaining access to the house. The house has been preserved since 1895 and was interesting to see, the guides were friendly and told me quite a bit about the place and the Carlyles. Then home with a bit of shopping on the way.
My menu planning has not been quite so effecient this week, and I have felt the effects of my inefficiency very quickly (finding I’d served cabbage two nights in a row, for example). I did put a beef stew in the crockpot before I went out yesterday, though (and oh how I love that crockpot, I can’t imagine why I resisted getting one!). Fish (coley steaks) tonight with baby potatoes roasted in olive oil, leeks, spinach, and then a fruit tart.